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Us 55, America 46, Colorado 18, United States 18, Madam 14, China 13, U.s. 12, Kansas 12, Collins 10, Wyoming 10, Mr. Mcconnell 10, Mr. Baucus 9, Maryland 9, Mr. Reid 9, Washington 9, Minnesota 8, Franken 7, Ryan Crocker 7, Feinstein 7, The F.b.i. 6,
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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    July 26, 2012
    12:00 - 5:00pm EDT  

cost. so for the past few months, ambassador crocker has fought through persistent pain and discomfort to finish out his one year in kabul, doing everything that is asked of him and more. and on tuesday that year came to an end and ambassador crocker came home to receive the care that he desperately needs. this is a remarksable story, but it's only surprising to those who do not know ryan crocker. for those of us who have had the pleasure and the honor of coming to know ryan well, this latest story is not at all surprising. it actually is quite in keeping with the character and actions of this superb, decent, selfless man, a man who i would call without question or hesitation the most excellent foreign service officer and one of the
finest public servants i have ever known. for the past 41 years, ever since he was a junior diplomat serving in prerevolution iran, ryan crocker has consistently answered the call to serve in the most challenging, the most difficult but also the most important posts in the world. they were the places as it turned out where america needed ryan crocker the most, and he has always served with distinction. he was a young officer in lebanon when our embassy was bombed. ryan crocker helped to pull his colleagues from the rubble and then got back to work. he was one of the first civilians into afghanistan and iraq after the recent wars, helping to re-establish our diplomatic presence in both countries after decades. he returned to iraq during the surge, and as general petraeus
tells everyone, was absolutely indispensable in turning around our war effort, even as his life was constantly in danger from the rockets that smashed into his office in baghdad and perhaps more threatening his own relentless work ethic which literally almost killed him. many presidents, republicans and democrats alike, have had the wisdom to appoint ryan crocker as their ambassador to six different countries -- lebanon, kuwait, syria, pakistan, iraq and finally afghanistan. ambassador crocker has been just as indispensable in kabul as he has everywhere else in his career. from enhancing our relationship with president karzai and the people of afghanistan to negotiating and concluding the strategic partnership agreement with afghanistan, to being the
dedicated partner every hour, every day of general john allen and all of our men and women serving in harm's way. in my many years, in my many travels, i've had the pleasure and the honor of meeting and getting to know many of our career diplomats, and i am continually impressed by their high quality and tough-mindedness, their patriotism and love of their country, their constant willingness to serve and their many secret sacrifices that they make. but of all these remarkable men and women, never have i met a foreign service officer more outstanding or more committed to our country than ryan crocker. the one comfort i take in ryan's departure from afghanistan is that he remains an abiding inspiration to his fellow diplomats who revere him and hold him in the highest regard and wish to model themselves and their careers after his life in
service. america will be a better and safer place because of this thanks to ryan crocker. now, mr. president, i rise today to oppose the cybersecurity act of 2012 because it would do very little to improve our country's national security. in fact, in its present form, i believe the bill before us would do more harm to our country's economy and expand the size and influence of the federal government, specifically the department of homeland security, than anything else. but before i begin my critique of the cybersecurity act, i'd like to reaffirm my sincere respect for the lead sponsor of the bill and both sponsors, actually, both senators lieberman and collins. although i disagree, whatever my criticisms i may have with the legislation should not be interpreted as an attack on the sponsors of the bill but rather
on the process by which the bill being debated today arrived before us and its public policy implications. consider this for a moment. if we pass this bill in its present form, which i hope we will not, we will have handed over one of the most technologically complex aspects of our national security to an agency with an abysmal track record. the department of homeland security. the problems at d.h.s. are too numerous to list here today, but i think i speak for many when i question the logic of putting this agency in charge of sensitive national security matters. they can't even screen airline passengers without constant controversy. and don't forget, this is the same outfit in charge of the chemical facility antiterrorism standards program or cfas, which was described in a recent report
as -- quote -- at measurable risk, beset by deep seated problems, largely unqualified work force, it lacks professionalism. i for one am not willing to take such a broad leap of faith and entrust this complex area of our national security and so many vibrants part of our economy to this ineffective, bloated government agency. the poor quality of this bill before us is a direct reflection of the lack of a thorough and transparent committee process. had this bill been subjected to the proper process, my colleagues and i and the american public would have a much better understanding of the real implications of this undertaking. unfortunately, this bill has not been the subject of one hearing. a single markup or a whiff of regular legislative procedure. our nation's cybersecurity is critical and the issue is deserving of the regular order
and the full attention and input of every member of this body. i urge the majority leader to allow full, fair and open amendment process if cloture is invoked on the motion to proceed. all of us should recognize the importance of cybersecurity. time and again, we have heard from experts about the importance of maximizing our nation's ability to effectively prevent and respond to cyber threats. we've all listened to accounts of cyber espionage originating from countries like china, organized criminals in russia and the depth of the threat from iran in the aftermath of the stuxnet leaks originating from the current administration. unfortunately, this bill would do little to minimize these threats or generally improve our current cybersecurity posture. the reason for this bill's general inadequacy is that rather than using a liability protection framework to enter
into cooperative relationships with the private sector, which happens to own 80% to 90% of the critical cyber infrastructure in this country, this bill chooses to take an adversarial approach with government mandates in inadequate liability protections. further, this bill includes unnecessary items that our government cannot afford and makes no mention of what the additional programs will cost. for instance, i am sure that some of us have fond childhood memories of going to or taking part in a talent show, but to include talent show provisions in this bill is ridiculous. title 4 of this bill authorizes ninth to 12th grade cyber talent shows and cyber summer programs for kindergarteners to seniors in high school. again, ridiculous, especially considering that the majority
leader deemed this bill more important than the national defense authorization act. well, i have criticisms with every title of the bill, i will limit my comments today to title 1 which regulates critical infrastructure and title 7 which concerns information sharing among the government and the private sector. in my view, these titles, along with weighing how much this bill, which lacks a c.b.o. score -- we don't even know how much it's going to cost -- will ultimately cost and how it will dramatically increase the size of the federal government are the most important aspects we can discuss. with respect to the first title, title 1, the proponents of the cybersecurity act would have you believe this bill authorizes the private sector to generate their own standards, that those standards are voluntary and that the bill establishes -- quote - "a public-private partnership. unfortunately, i disagree with each of these characterizations. as the bill is currently
written, the government and not the private sector would have the final say on what standards look like, and the private sector would be forced to comply. while my colleagues might suggest that responsible 103 states that the private sector proposes -- quote -- "voluntary cybersecurity practices to the government, i call your attention to the following provision in section 103, which states the government would then decide whether and how to amend or add to those cybersecurity practices. additionally, there is no recourse for the private sector to challenge the government's actions. soon after the government's takeover of the development of cybersecurity standards, any notion of the standards being voluntary evaporates. section 103 clearly states, and i quote -- "a federal agency with responsibilities for
regulating the security of critical infrastructure may adopt the cybersecurity practices as mandatory requirements. that's the language of the bill. while it's being portrayed as -- quote -- voluntary, proposals would soon become mandatory requirements. unfortunately, the conversion from voluntary to mandatory doesn't stop there. shockingly, under this bill, if an agency does not adopt mandatory cybersecurity practices, it must explain why they chose not to do so. that's right. under this bill, if a regulatory agency chooses not to mandate the voluntary practices, it must explain itself as if it must be doing something contrary to the final objective. if this provision doesn't reveal the true regulatory intent of the proponents of this bill, nothing does.
section 105 brings home this point by stating -- quote -- "nothing in this title should be construed to limit the ability of a federal agency with responsibilities for regulating the security of critical infrastructure from requiring that the cybersecurity practices developed under section 103 be met. i would very much commend my colleagues to reading that provision of the bill. all you have to do is read it. the regulatory result of these standards could not be clearer. moving on to title 7 which deals with the flow of information between the government and the private sector, the current bill is a step in the wrong direction. specifically, the bill would make us less safe by failing to place the agencies with the most expertise and who are the most capable of protecting us on the same footing as other entities
within the federal government. it strikes me as counterintuitive to prevent the institutions most capable of protecting the united states from a cyber attack and leave us relying on agencies with far less capabilities. because this bill fails to equitably incentivize the voluntary sharing of information with all of the federal government cyber defense assets, it does a great disservice to our national security. in cyber war where speed and reaction times are essential to success, real-time responses are essential. the bill language states that information should be shared in -- quote -- "as close to real time as possible." unquote. that may sound nice but it won't get the job done. we all agree that the threat we face in the cyber domain is among the most significant challenges of the 21st century. it is reckless and irresponsible to rebuild the very stovepipes and information-sharing barriers
that the 9/11 commission attributed as responsible for one of our greatest intelligence failures. because of my opposition to this bill and the lack of a regular legislative process, i have joined with senators chambliss, hutchison, grassley, murkowski, burr, johnson and coats in offering an alternative cybersecurity bill. the fundamental difference in our alternative approach is that we aim to enter into a truly cooperative relationship with the entire private sector through voluntary information sharing rather than an adversarial one with the threat of mandates. our bill which also addresses reforming how the government protects its own assets sets penalty for cyber crimes and refocuses government research toward cybersecurity, provides a commonsense path forward to improve our nation's cybersecurity defenses with no new spending. we believe improving information
sharing between the private sector and government, updating our criminal code to reflect the threat posed, reforming the security management act and focusing investments in cybersecurity, our nation will be better off to defend itself against cyber attacks. even though we don't offer talent shows or summer camps in our bill, it has the support of the industries who themselves are under attack. before i close, i'd like to leave but a final point which gets to the heart of why we are having this debate today. in our country unlike other countries around the globe, the private sector owns 80% to 90% of the critical cyber infrastructure. this is a fact in which we should all take great pride. after all, it speaks to the essence of american entrepreneurialism and our spirit of individualism. the companies that own these systems are large and small, they employ men and women
everywhere, and their influence reaches every state, every congressional district, and about every corner of our country. so while we all agree we are involved in a serious national security discussion, we must not forget to thoughtfully weigh the economic realities of this debate, too. i caution all of my colleagues to tread very carefully here because i'm deeply concerned we're on the cusp of granting the federal government broad authorities and influence over one of the most vibrant and innovative sectors of our economy -- of our economy. the technology sector and the use of internet by american companies to innovate and improve the customer experience are deeply threatened by the heavy and too-often clumsy hand of government. as we confront the challenges of an innovate economy we must be careful not to undermine the economy itself. now, madam president, it's well known that we continue to have discussions amongst various
parties, senator kyl, senator whitehouse, senator lieberman, senator collins, sometimes the crowd is large, sometimes it's not so large, and i think that we have made some progress. i think that there is a better understanding of both the different proposals that are before us. i do believe it's important, i do believe it's very important that businesses, large and small, in the united states of america, whether they be the utility companies or whether they be the most high-tech sectors, be represented in these discussions. we have tried to do that. i believe that we can make progress. i believe that we can reach an agreement. i also know that we have had several meetings and have not had extremely measurable progress, but i am committed to doing everything i can to see that we reach that agreement before we conclude the
consideration of this legislation. i would also like to point out to my colleagues that i have had numerous conversations with my friends on the other side of the capitol. they find this legislation in its present form unacceptable. i would hope that we would also consider the fact that we need to get a final bill, not just one passed by the united states senate. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: madam president, consider these ominous words -- quote -- "to the loved ones of the victims who are here in this room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you. those whom you entrusted with protecting you failed you. and i failed you. we tried hard, but that doesn't
matter. because we failed." end of quote. those aren't my words. they contain a sentiment that i hope none of us ever has to convey to the american people. those are the words of richard clarke, the senior white house official who was in charge of counterterrorism efforts in the previous administration when the september 11 terrorist attacks occurred. mr. clarke's testimony before the september 11 commission was apologetic, remorseful, and tragic, because he knew, he knew like no one else our government had failed. failed to act on repeated warnings, and this failure led to 9/11 and the largest loss of life on american soil at the hands of a foreign enemy since december 7, 1941 at pearl harbor. madam president, today the
national alarm security bells are ringing once again. this time, however, the enemy is not in a terrorist training camp learning how to make an explosive device or commandeer an aircraft. the enemy isn't trying to sneak its way into the united states. the enemy we face doesn't need to hijack an airplane in order to wreck the american economy and to cause widespread loss of life. the only thing this enemy needs is a computer and access to the internet. the threat our nation faces from a cyber attack will soon equal or surpass the threat from any terrorism that has consumed our attention so much since september 11. now, that's not my assessment. that is the assessment of the director of the federal bureau of investigation, robert mueller. in fact, he's not alone. there's an overwhelming bipartisan consensus among officials in the intelligence,
defense, and national security community that america is incredibly vulnerable to a cyber attack that can be launched at any moment from anywhere in the world. michael hayden, the former director of the national security agency, michael chertoff, the former secretary of homeland security who served under president george w. bush, agree. they and many other officials have joined current secretary of homeland security, janet nap, the current -- janet napolitano, and keith alexander and others in warning as follows "the cyber threat is imminent to america. it poses as serious a challenge to our national security as the introduction of nuclear weapons in the global debate 60 years ago." the experts are sounding the alarm, calling us to take action now. to prevent a catastrophic cyber attack that could cripple our nation's economy, cause
widespread loss of life, sadly, send our economy into free fall. when the cybersecurity act of 2012 comes up for a vote the senate will have an opportunity to take action on this critical bill that will enhance our national security. in light of these warnings from the experts, the least we can do in the senate is to vote to open the debate on this critically important bill. i want thank its sponsors, senator lieberman, chairman of the committee, senator collins, the ranking member, senator feinstein on the intelligence committee, senator rockefeller on the commerce committee. they've put a lot of time and effort into this important piece of legislation. and they've worked together on a bipartisan basis. they've listened to a wide range of comments, including a few that i've offered, and i'm pleased that the revised cybersecurity act of 2012 incorporates many suggestions. it will help make america safe by enhancing our nation's
ability to prevent, mitigate, and rapidly respond to cyber attacks. the bill contains important provisions for securing our nation's critical infrastructure. every day without thinking about it, we rely on power plants, pipelines, electric power grids, water treatment facilities, transportation systems, and financial networks to work, to live, to travel, to do so many things we take for granted. all of these critical systems today are increasingly vulnerable to cyber attack from our enemies. last year, there was a 400% increase in cyber attacks. reported by the owners of critical infrastructure, according to the department of national security. that increase does not account for the many attacks that went unreported. we don't think twice about it but this infrastructure is the backbone of america's economy and our way with of life. this bill has provisions that will help minimize our vulnerability and shore up our
defenses. the bill also includes a new framework for voluntary information sharing so that government agencies and private companies can improve their mutual understanding of cyber threats and vulnerabilities and develop good practices to keep us safe. i thought it was worth doing a few months ago to call together a dozen major corporations in chicago and across illinois that i thought with the advice of some people who were experts might be vulnerable to cyber attack. i asked these experts in a closed setting outside the press what congress could do to help them secure their infrastructure at their business, and networks, from cyber attacks. the answer from each and every one of them was the same. we need to be able to share information on cyber threats with the government and other private entities, we need to receive information from them in order to know what they've done to effectively prevent and mitigate attacks. estimates are that 85% of
america's critical infrastructure is owned by the private sector. since we depend so much on the private sector for our critical infrastructure, the lines of communications between government and that private sector must be open. if we share best practices, the result could be to make us a secure nation. let me say as well, i have the highest regard for my friend and colleague, senator john mccain of arizona. senator mccain's life story is a story of patriotism and commitment to america. he understands the military far better than i ever will, having served and spent so many years working on the house armed services committee. but i take exception to one of his statements earlier, at least what i consider to be the message of that statement. about how we have to be extremely careful how we engage the private sector in keeping america safe from cyber attack. i believe we should be open, transparent, and we should be
respectful of the important resources and capacity of the private sector. but i think back 70 years now to what happened in london when there was a blitzkrieg and the decision was made by the british government to appeal to every business, every home, every family, every individual to turn out the lights. because if the lights were on, those bombers from germany knew where the targets could be found. it was a national effort to protect a nation. should it have been a voluntary effort? should we have had a big town meeting and said some of you can leave the lights on if you like if it might be an inconvenience? there comes a moment when it comes to national defense we need to appeal to a higher level in protecting america, and my experience has been that the private sector is right there. they are as anxious to protect this country as anyone. they're as anxious to protect individuals, families, even their own businesses, so this notion that somehow we are add
rer sairl in protect -- adversarial in protecting america with the private sector, i don't think it's the case. the fact that senator collins is here representing the other side of the aisle and i know it's not the case. she and i have worked together. i've been very respectful of the efforts she and senator lieberman put in to rewriting the rules for our intelligence community. they did it in a thoughtful and balanced way. this bill does, too. are there amendments we might take? of course. this isn't perfect. no product of legislation is. but i have to say that i believe the private sector will be our ally, our friend, our partner in making america safe. this shouldn't be a fight to the finish as to whether it's government or the private sector which will prevail. ultimately, america has to prevail. let me say a word about one part of this bill that i played a small role in addressing. even though the threat in cyberspace is new and emerging, it calls to the forefront a familiar tension which we've witnessed in washington. on the one hand, a mutually
shared goal of protecting our country, on the other hand, an important obligation to safeguard constitutionally protected rights to privacy and civil liberties. it's this tension that led us to a conversation about some provisions. and trying to find the right balance. the cybersecurity act of 2012 is not perfect, but it effectively striets strikes that balance between national security and individual liberties. the bill will enhance our national security and still do it in a way that is far superior to some of the alternatives that will be offered on the floor. the obstacle bill passed by the house of representatives and securityth ietd -- secure i.t. does not meet that in my estimation. i want to thank senator collins and those involved but especially to my colleague, senator franken. he is chair of the privacy
subcommittee of our judiciary committee. we joined together with senators coons, blumenthal, and akaka and asked the sponsors to work with us and they did. the revised bill now requires that the government cybersecurity exchange to which private companies can send threat indicators must be operated by civilian agencies. i think that's a smart thing. the obstacle threat indicator could be a sensitive personal communication like an e-mail or a private message on a social media site. as a result of our efforts no longer can personal communications be indiscriminately sent directly 0 the n.s.a. or c.i.a., the people that work at these agencies are fine, dedicated public servants but these agencies are often shrouded in secrecy. i learned that as a member of the intelligence committee, and to have the appropriate oversight we ask that the first line of review be with a civilian agency subject to congressional oversight. this doesn't mean our
intelligence and defense agencies will never apply their experience to analyze and mitigate cyber threats. they should not be the first recipients but the bill requires -- and i think it's entirely appropriate -- relevant cyber threat information can be shared by these agencies in real time. waste no time doing it. sends it to the agencies if there's any perceived threat to america's security. the revised bill no longer provides immunity for companies that violate the privacy rights of americans in a knowing, intentional or grossly negligent way. we're not talking about simple negligence but things that go over that line dramatically. i can support providing immunity for companies to share cybersecurity threats with government as long as they take adequate precautions and follow commonsense rules established in the bill. the revised bill enables law enforcement entities to receive information about cyber crimes from cybersecurity exchanges without first going to court to obtain a warrant. to ensure these exchanges are not used to circumvent the constitution and they don't
create a perpetual warrantless wiretap, the bill requires law enforcement to only use information from the exchanges to stop cyber crime, prevent imminent death or bodily harm to adults and prevent exploitation of minors. the revised bill now requires the rules for how the government will use and protect the private information it receives must be in place before companies begin sending information to the new cybersecurity exchanges. that makes sense. to be sure that government agencies follow the rules for using and protecting private information, the revised bill gives individuals the authority to hold the government accountable for privacy violations. to ensure transparency and accountability, the revised bill requires recurring independent oversight by the inspector general and the privacy and civil liberties oversight board. these are commonsense reforms. senator lieberman spoke to the democratic senate caucus luncheon the other day and addressed these directly. he said that he took these changes to those who were in
charge of our cybersecurity and said to them, give me an honest, candid assessment. if you think this ties our hands in protecting america, tell me right now. they reviewed them carefully, they debated them and came back and said, no, these are things we can live with and work with. that i think is the kind of approval we're looking for from those who have this aw spe some responsibility.-- awesome responsibility. and so as a result this bill is going to have my support, my support because i think it keeps america safe from a threat which many americans don't even know about but we could literally take our lives or change our lives in a heartbeat. it also has the support of many progressive groups from the left and center and right. it's an indication to me that we've struck the right balance and i want to thank those who helped us reach this pointed. as with any -- helped us reach this point. as with any piece of substantial legislation, there's going to be disagreement. senator mccain expressed some areas of concern. that's what debate and amendment are all about. let us move this bill forward
this afternoon. let's entertain relevant, germane amendments. let's take it as seriously as this threat is as serious to the united states. that, to me, is the right way to go. again, let me thank senator collins on the floor personally and all the others who made this bill a reality and bring it to the floor for our consideration. madam president, i yield the floor. ms. collins: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collinsms. collins: thank y, madam president. i just want to rise very brief briefly. i know there are a number of members who are seeking recognition. to thank my friend and colleague from illinois for his statement today. he has worked very hard on this bill. i know it is an issue that he cares deeply about and i very much appreciate his taking the time to come to the floor and to urge members to vote for the motion to proceed to the debate on this absolutely vital
legislation. madam president, i must say that i was disappointed to hear some of the comments that were made on the senate floor today in opposition to this bill. the fact is that both republican and democratic officials have, with very few exceptions, endorsed the framework of this bill and urged us to move forward. in fact, they have warned us repeatedly that the only question is when a major cyber attack will occur, not whether it will occur but when it will occur. we have letter after letter, statement after statement from
national and homeland security experts representing both president bush's administration and the current administration urging us to act. and, indeed, just yesterday, the aspen homeland security group put out a statement that strongly urges u.s. senate to vote this week to take up senate bill 3414 for debate on the senate floor. the statement goes on to say, "we urge the senate to adopt a program of voluntary cybersecurity standards and strong, positive incentives for critical infrastructure operators to implement those standards. the country is already being hurt by foreign cyber intrusions and the possibility of a devastating cyber attack is
real. congress must act now." and this is signed by officials from the previous administration such as charlie allen, stewart baker, michael leiter, michael chertoff. there are numerous representatives of -- of past administrations, individuals who are renown for their expertise. how can we ignore their warning that we must act, that it is urgent and that we must have voluntary standards for critical infrastructure, infrastructure that if it were attacked, would result in mass casualties, massemassevacuations, a severe o
our economy, or a serious degradation of our national security. madam president, that is the definition of the core critical infrastructure that we want to cover and to help make more security through a partnership with the private sector. and it has to be a partnership. 85% of critical infrastructure is owned by the private sector. and we have worked hard to alter our bill, to take suggestions from the private sector, from our colleagues, from the administration, from experts across the philosophical range to improve our bill. i heard this morning a member saying that somehow we're going to be hurting the high-tech sector of our society. well, that's not what cisco and
oracle, certainly two of the leading businesses in the high-tech sector, think. this morning they wrote to us, the chief sponsors of the bill, chairman lieberman, chairman rockefeller, chairman feinstein, myself and senator carper and i'm just going to read a brief excerpt from their letter. they said that they appreciate the efforts that we've made to craft legislation that addresses the important issue of cybersecurity by supporting american industry in its efforts to continue to be the world's leading innovators. the fact is, it is american businesses that are being robbed of billions of dollars every year due to cyber intrusions from foreign governments, from transnational criminals, from
hackers. this is a threat not only to our national security but to our economic prosperity. that's why the letter from cisco and oracle goes on to say that "we praise your continued recognition of the importance of these objectives through the provisions of our bill. we support those provisions. we commend your commitment to ensuing that the i.t. industr industry -- ensuring that the i.t. industry maintains the ability to drive innovation and security into technologies and the network." so the ideas we heard this morning on the senate floor, that somehow we're going to bring innovation in america to a standstill or hurt this important sector of our economy is not supported by a reading of our bill and it is certainly
contradicted by the letter that we have received from cisco and oracle, leading companies in the high-tech sector. and finally, i would point out that they thank us for our outreach, our willingness to engage in an exhaustive process around this issue set and to consider and to respond to the views of america's technology sector. that's what we've done, madam president. that's what we're continuing to do with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle who bring varying views to this issue. but what we cannot do is to fail to act when the warnings are so constant and alarming about the threats to our nation, to our
economy, and to our way of life. so, madam president, i would ask unanimous consent that the statement from the aspen institute, homeland security group, as well as the july 26 letter from cisco and oracle be entered into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: and i would yield the floor. thank you, madam president. mr. franken: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: madam president, i rise today to talk about our nation's defenses against cyber attacks, and i would like to commend the senator from maine for her leadership and all the chair -- the ranking member, of course, on homeland security. and i would like also to commend all the -- the three chairs, lieberman, feinstein, rockefeller for their work.
as i said, i rise today to talk about our nation's defense against cyber attacks and how our nation needs to respond to those threats which affect our national security, our economic security, and our privacy. news reports and experts confirm that our nation's critical infrastructure, such as our water systems, our power grid and so forth, are vulnerable to attacks from hackers and foreign governments. and every few weeks, we hear about yet another breach, yahoo and gmail, citibank, bank of america, sony playstation. millions of people have had their names, passwords, credit card information or health information compromised. and it isn't just our national security or economic well-being that's being threatened by these attacks. it's the internet itself. if you want to use facebook or a cloud-based e-mail provider to communicate with your friends and loved ones, you need to know
that your private communications won't be exposed by hackers. if you want to use the internet to spread new ideas or fight for democracy, you need to know that your work won't be disrupted by hackers or repressive regimes. unfortunately it's hard to write a good cybersecurity bill, because when you try to make it easier for the government or internet companies to detect and stop the work of hackers or of other bad actors, you often end up making it easier or very easy for those same entities to snoop in on the lives of innocent americans. and so until recently, every major cybersecurity bill on the table would have done too much to immunize and expand the authority of government -- of the government and industry and far too little to protect our privacy and civil liberties.
these bills would make it too easy for companies to hand over your e-mails and other private information to the government, even to the military. setting aside the fourth amendment, these bills would allow almost all of that information to go to law enforcement. and these bills do far too little to hold these companies and the government accountable for their mistakes. a few months ago, i teamed up with senators durbin, wyden, sanders, coons, blumenthal, and akaka to try to address this situation. we worked with privacy and civil liberties groups on the left, the right, and the center to come up with a package of proposals. we worked with the aclu, the electronic frontier foundation, and the center for democracy and technology, which are traditionally associated with progressives.
we worked with the constitution project, which is a bipartisan centrist think-tank. and we worked with tech freedom and the competitive enterprise institute which are conservative, libertarian organizations. together we approached chairman lieberman, ranking member collins, chairman rockefeller and chairman feinstein and proposed a package of amendments to the information-sharing title of the cybersecurity act of 2012. the information-sharing title is the part of the bill that will make it easier for companies to share critical information about cyber attacks to each other and with the government. these senators engaged with us urgently -- earnestly and in good faith, and after a lot of hard work and a lot of conversations, the sponsors made a series of changes to the bill that are major, unequivocal
victories for privacy and civil liberties. now, the bill is still not perfect from my point of view, but i can say with confidence that when it comes to protecting both our cybersecurity and our civil liberties, the cybersecurity act of 2012 is the only game in town. i want to take a moment to explain the changes made to the information sharing title and compare how the cybersecurity act now stacks up with its rival bills, the cyber intelligence sharing and protection act or cispa which recently passed the house, and the secure i.t. act which has been introduced here in the senate. first of all, i agree that we need to make it easier for companies to share time-sensitive information with experts in the government. but the cyber threat information
that companies are sharing often comes from private sensitive communications like our emails, and so the gatekeeper of any information shared under these proposals should never be the military. it should never be the n.s.a. now, the men and women of the n.s.a. are patriots, and they are undoubtedly skilled and knowledgeable, but, as senator durbin said, that institution is too shrouded in secrecy. as he didn't say but i will say, it has too dark a history of spying on innocent americans to be trusted with this responsibility under any, any administration. under the new revised cybersecurity act of 2012, the one that will soon be before us on the floor, companies can use the authorities in the bill to give cyber threat information
only to civilian agencies. that is a critical protection for civil liberties and it is a protection that cispa and the secure i.t. act do not have. i want to be very clear. an america with cispa and an america with a secure i.t. act is an america where your emails can be shared directly, immediately and with impunity with the n.s.a. secondly, any cybersecurity bill should focus on just that, cybersecurity. it should not be a back door for warrantless wiretaps or information entirely unrelated to cyber attacks. in other words, once a company gives the government cyber threat information, the government shouldn't be able to say hey, this email doesn't have a virus but it does say that michael was late on his taxes, i'm going to send that to the i.r.s. under the cybersecurity act of
2012, once a cyber exchange gets information, it can give that information to law enforcement only to prosecute or stop a cyber crime or to stop serious immediate harm to adults or serious harm to minors. cispa actually has similar protections, but secure i.t. allows a far broader range of disclosures to law enforcement. here in the senate, the cybersecurity act is the proposal that does the most to respect the spirit and letter of the fourth amendment. third, the cybersecurity bill should make it easier for a company to share information with experts in the government, but it has to hold companies who abuse that authority accountable for their acts. both cispa and the secure i.t. act give companies immunity for
knowing violations of your privacy. under cispa and the secure act, if a company's c.e.o. knows for a fact that his engineers are sending every one of your emails to the n.s.a., there is nothing you can do about it. that is not an exaggeration. thanks to the changes that i pushed for along with senators durbin, wyden, coons, sanders, blumenthal and akaka, the cybersecurity act does not protect companies who violate your privacy intentionally, knowingly or with gross negligence. fourth and finally, a cybersecurity bill should also hold the government accountable for its actions. under both cispa and the secure i.t. act, companies can start giving the federal government your private information well before the government actually has privacy rules in place for how to handle that information. under the secure i.t. act, the
government has total immunity from lawsuits arising out of its cybersecurity operations, total immunity for the government. the secure i.t. act also lacks any regular independent oversight of the federal government's actions under these new authorities. the cybersecurity act of 2012 now has all three of these protections. under this bill, privacy rules have to be in place on the first day the companies start giving the government information. people can sue the government when it abuses its authority, and there will be recurrent independent oversight by both the privacy and the civil liberties oversight board and inspectors general. these are just four main categories of changes that the sponsors of the cybersecurity act have adopted. there are other changes, too, that i won't go into now. before i close, i want to
elaborate on one way i do think we need to improve the cybersecurity act to better protect privacy. the sponsors of this bill have rightly adopted several critical protections. i hope they will accept at least one more amendment that i think is very important. i'll talk about my amendment more on another occasion, but for now i just want to flag it for my colleagues. for decades, federal law has given internet service providers and other companies the right to monitor their systems to protect themselves and their customers from cybersecurity threats. they also have the right to employ what are called countermeasures to protect their systems against those threats. so these companies have the right to monitor and protect themselves, but at the same time federal law prevents them from abusing those rights.
if an i.s.p. starts randomly picking customers and reading their emails, their customers and the government can take them to court, and the i.s.p. can't throw its hands up and plead cybersecurity. this is why when the president of the united states brought together all of the federal agencies to craft a bill that would comprehensively protect our cybersecurity, that proposal included a new authority for companies to disclose information to the government but contained no new authority for companies to monitor email or deploy countermeasures. when the administration's lawyers were asked why that was, they said that doing so would have been duplicative. duplicative. because the companies already have those rights. right now, the cybersecurity act and the president's proposal are not in line with each other
because unlike the president's proposal, the cybersecurity act does give i.s.p.'s and other companies a brand-new right to monitor communications and to deploy countermeasures. that right is very broad, so broad that if a company uses that power negligently to snoop in on your email or damage your computer, they will be immune from any lawsuit. i plan to offer an amendment to delete these new monitoring and countermeasures authorities and to bring this bill in line with the president's proposal, and i hope that my colleagues here in the senate will join me in passing this amendment. seven of my colleagues have already indicated that they will cosponsor this amendment. but madam president, i want to end on a high note. i don't want my amendment to cloud my central message here, so i will repeat what i said earlier. the cybersecurity act is not
perfect but when it comes to striking a balance between cybersecurity and privacy and civil liberties, it is the only game in town. it is far more protective of our rights than either cispa or the secure i.t. act. i want to thank the sponsors of the cybersecurity act for taking this high road and urge my colleagues to vote to proceed to the bill so we can have good, full debate on it. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: madam president, i am honored to be able to join the senator from minnesota in speaking today in support of all the members of this body voting to proceed to the consideration of the important cybersecurity bill to which he and senator durbin have just spoke. today, madam president, we have an opportunity to celebrate progress. very real, very concrete and
very important progress in the legislative effort to make america both more secure and yet retain our core constitutional freedoms, the protections of privacy that americans have held dear from the very beginning of this republic. madam president, as i said before on this floor, taking action to protect our nation from the very real threat of cyber attack is of paramount importance, something so important that it deserves our undivided attention, but so is protecting the privacy rights of law-abiding american citizens. as we work together towards this commonsense compromise piece of legislation that the senate should consider in coming days, i fought hard along with several colleagues to ensure we maintain the right balance between privacy and security. that balance, madam president, is essential. compromising our liberty would be just as dangerous as compromising our safety, but
thanks to the hard work of so many of my colleagues, in particular senators durbin, senator franken, senator blumenthal, senator merkley, senator sanders and others, we found that appropriate balance in this legislation that's before us. the changes we have made to the original text and to the house-passed version have significantly strengthened privacy rights. that's why i say, madam president, we can celebrate real progress here today. i long thought that it was the privacy issues that would be the rock on which this ship would founder, that the critical and unaddressed privacy issues in cispa and secure i.t. just spoken to by senator franken would be issues that would prevent me from supporting cybersecurity legislation in this session of the congress, but we have made remarkable progress. let me, if i can, briefly review a few of the areas where that progress has been made. we made sure that companies cannot pry into the private online activities of everyday americans in the name of national security. i want to mention just one more
improvement. in addition to those mentioned by senator franken just before me concerning legal immunities contained in this bill, this bill appropriately gives companies the authority to share cyber threat-related information with each other and the government, without which we can't know what the rapidly emerging significant national cyber threats really are, and it also gives them immunity from suit if they do so. so if companies share with each other real-time cyber threat information, they cannot be sued, but prior versions of this bill might have provided bad actors with immunity against all privacy laws. so instead, we added tough provisions to ensure if a company acts recklessly or willfully to violate the law and the online privacy of its customers, they will be held accountable. this legislation now, in my view, strikes an appropriate balance between empowering companies and providing them certainty as well as maintaining
the privacy rights of americans and their customers. in this new, better, stronger legislation, it's no longer the case that companies can share your data and violate your privacy just because you interact with them online. if that had remained in this bill, madam president, i would have expected millions of americans to mobilize to stop this legislation. but we are here today as a group of senators to announce that real progress has been made and that we are comfortable with and support this legislation from a privacy perspective. i urge my colleagues when we take up this vote later this afternoon to vote to proceed to the bill and to allow us a full and robust debate on this cybersecurity legislation. getting to this new and improved legislation was a team effort and special credit is due to senators lieberman and collins for leading the way, for being willing to find common ground on challenging issues. there was also a great deal of hard work done by my senior senator tom carper and senators feinstein and rockefeller who chair relevant committees and
were also essential to making such great progress. madam president, one of the aspects of cybersecurity and the threat to our country that keeps me up at night is that it is constantly evolving. our enemies are smart, they are capable and they are fast and that means our cyber defenses have to be flexible, adaptable and regularly evaluated in order to keep up. one good thing about the house version of this legislation is that it includes a sunset provision requiring that in five years this body once again must take a hard and serious look at cybersecurity threats and update or change our defense as needed and ensure the privacy protections have been fully observed. that's not just good strategy, madam president, it's good sense. think about the capabilities of your computer, your cell phone, five years ago compared to today. the pace of change is faster on line than ever before. and we need the kind of legislative process that allows us to review our work and ensure that we not only stay ahead of
the curve in defending our country but that we continue to strike the right balance between privacy and security. that's why, madam president, like senator franken before me i intend to introduce an amendment on the floor which i hope will earn consideration by my colleagues to take the sunset provision of our house counterparts and match that in the senate in this bill. it is the right thing to do, to help keep us safe and help our military leaders and cybersecurity experts say one step ahead of those who wish us harm. i want to thank senator whitehouse of connecticut who has been an important part of two different teams working on this bill. excuse me, senators kyl and whitehouse led a team that worked hard on critical infrastructure but i want to thank senator blumenthal also of connecticut who participated in the privacy side work and the critical infrastructure work. now we're speaking to title 7, the information sharing of the bill and the dramatic and real progress that has been made in
addressing the balance between security and privacy. there has also been great progress made in my view in dleas dreasing the issues of critical infrastructure and lied tokyo to invite senator blumenthal who has contracted so well to both efforts to address the chamber at this time. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. blumenthal: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, madam president. i want to thank my very distinguished and effective colleague from delaware for his great work as part of a team that has sought to enhance the protections of privacy in this bill. his perspective as a local official, as a constitutional expert, as someone who cares deeply about privacy and civil liberties, has been invaluable to this effort, and he, too, has participated in the critical infrastructure team that both of us have been privileged to join
with senators whitehouse and kyl, who have been so enormously helpful in this effort. i want join him as well in thanking our colleagues, senators akaka, durbin, franken, sanders, and wyden in their very, very important efforts to protect privacy and civil liberties in the information sharing title of the cybersecurity act. we have really worked as a team and in many ways a bipartisan team in forging this legislation and, of course, we have followed the lead of senators lieberman and collins, who have really been at the forefront of this effort, as well as senators rockefeller, feinstein, and carper, who deserve our appreciation for drafting the bill, shepherding it through committee, and bringing it to the floor, where now we havehe historic opportunity to move forward,
and i am here to urge my colleagues, in fact, to move forward and vote to proceed to the bill later today. we've made good progress on this legislation. and i am optimistic that we will pass a cybersecurity bill in the very near future, as we must for all the reasons that have been articulated by me and others, this nation is under attack. it is under cyber attack, literally every day our defense industrial base, our military systems, and our private industry are under attack by nations and by hackers both sophisticated and unsophisticated, abroad and at home. and we must make sure that we provide the tools and the resources, legal resources and
authorities, to stop that attack, to deter it, to defeat it, to make sure that our country is defended against it effectively and comprehensively. the nature of defending against cyber attack involves information sharing. there is no way around that basic fact, that information about the attacks, the sources, the objects and targets, the times, all of the details are in essence the power to defend. information is power when it comes to defending against cyber attack. and yet we also know that information, when shared, can also be abused, and some of the
most tragic chapters of our nation's history have involved snooping, spying, surveilling, and then sharing of information that is inappropriate and unnecessary and sometimes illegal. and we know also that one of our core constitutional protections is, in fact, the right to privacy. it is enshrined in our constitution, it dates from our founding, it is integral to the fabric of the rule of law. we resisted and rejected the rule of the british in part because they had no respect for the privacy of the colonial. and that basic value has inspired the rule of law since. there is a saying, i believe it
is a latin saying, that in war, law is the first casualty. we are in a cyber war, but our constitutional law cannot be a casualty. our right to privacy and civil liberties must be protected. so information sharing must involve the right information shared with the right people and officials for the right purposes. there must be red lines and red lights, and there must be consequences if those red lines or red lights are disregarded or dismissed. this bill meets those basic requirements. it is enforceable, and it must be enforced. and, in fact, i will offer an amendment to increase the enforceability and enforcement of these basic protections by increasing the penalties for
violating these basic protections. the trust and confidence of our nation in the rule of law depends on our getting it right. information sharing with the right information to the right people and for the right purposes. and so the kinds of modifications contained in this bill are critically important. they are in sharp contrast to the house-approved version, cspa which fails, utterly fails to protect civil liberties and privacy rights in sufficient degree. unlike past versions, this measure establishes unequivocal civilian control of cybersecurity information exchanges. unlike past versions, this bill bars companies from using cybersecurity as a pretext for
violating f.c.c. net neutrality rules. unlike will versions, this bill bars companies from using cybersecurity as a pretext for violating other guarantees, and it allows citizens to hold companies accountable and take them to court for knowingly or grossly negligent violations of the information sharing provisions of this bill. and equally important, it enables them to hold the united states government and other public officials responsible and take them to court if they violate privacy guarantees in this bill. a private company receiving someone's private information while monitoring for cyber threats should protect that information. it is a public trust and a public responsibility. and so this act protects americans' privacy by requiring
companies that obtain that kind of information, some of it medical, or financial, of the most confidential and private nature through monitoring to protect that information. and this measure also imposes restrictions on the use of shared information for law enforcement purposes. the government can only provide information to law enforcement if it relates to a cyber crime or a serious threat to public safety. that is, physical safety. bodily harm. and law enforcement can only use information to prosecute or stop cyber attacks to prevent that kind of imminent and immediate harm to a person or a child. there are other protections. some of them have been mentioned by senators franken and coons before me, that i will support. for example, senator franken mentioned that his amendment
would eliminate new authorities in the bill to monitor communications or operate countermeasures. senator coons mentioned a five-year sunset on the use of information sharing under this measure to help guard against unforeseen consequences of the legislation, and ensure that congressional oversight occurs on a regular and foreseeable basis. and other measures which i consider important would require federal agencies that suffer a data breach to notify affected individuals and allow those individuals to recover damages and require the creation of a new office in the office of management and budget, chief privacy officer. i will offer an amendment and support one if others join me, in supporting such a measure to
create a chief privacy officer in the office of management and budget. i support these amendments and i support also increasing the penalty in the event that government or companies violate the protections in this statute. we have indeed made progress. there is more to do. i hope that more progress will be made. and i foresee passage of a cybersecurity measure that is desperately and direly needed in this country. not at some point in the future, but now, as others before me have said on this floor and as i have said before, cybersecurity is national security. and we must protect our national security while at the same time retaining the reason, our fundamental rights and civil liberties that we want to
protect our nation and its constitutional values. thank you, madam president. and i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
quorum call: a senator: madam president? madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: thank you very much. i'd ask permission to speak as if in the senate were in morning business. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. moran: i ask the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. moran: we learned yesterday afternoon that the department of agriculture in an employee newspaper was promoting something called meatless mondays, and the department of agriculture's newsletter offered
the encouragement for their employees, and i assume others who might see the newsletter, but perhaps even the tourists who visit washington, d.c. and eat at the department of agriculture's cafeteria to participate in meatless monday. it indicates that desireabilityf reducing the consumption of meat and dairy products in their newsletter. and i found that very startling, surprising. never in my life would i expect the department of agriculture, who i always presume is the farmer and rancher's friend, promoting the idea that it is a bad idea to eat the products of farms across kansas, ranches across kansas and our nation. and yet, that's what we saw and read yesterday. the department of agriculture's newsletter says beef production requires lots of water, tperts tperts -- fertilizers, fossil fuels, pesticides and there are
health issues related to the consumption of meat. i'm pleased to report that in asking secretary vilsack to reconsider what the department had said and was promoting, they have done that. they have apparently removed the promotion, the newsletter from their web site, and that's a positive development. and so i appreciate that happening. but it is amazing to me that this, unfortunately, is one of many circumstances in which we see administration agencies and departments on the side of something that those of us who believe strongly in traditional family agriculture across the country believe is very important. and one would expect in this case a department of agriculture that promotes the consumption of meat. in fact, we have within the department of agriculture, in fact the secretary says in his mission statement that he is about increasing and expanding
domestic and foreign markets for beef and meat products. we have the u.s. behalf of board ogd -- beef board whose job it is to promote agricultural products. we spend lots of effort, many of us in congress over the last several years, trying to encourage the sale of agricultural products, particularly meat and beef and particular products to south korea, to china. we have debated on this senate floor the value of trade agreements most recently with colombia, south korea and panama because we believe in the sale and the opportunity for american producers to sell their product around the globe. and yet, we saw at least some who at usda have the view that we need to be discouraging the consumption of meat for both environmental and health reasons. particularly troublesome is the fact that the department of agriculture was citing the united nations as a reason that
we ought to discourage the consumption of beef for environmental reasons. our department of agriculture' positions ought to be based on sound science, not some u.n. study. beef is an important and vital component of the kansas economy. we're the second-largest beef-producing state in the country. economic impact to our country is around $44 billion. exports in 2011, beef exports were over $4.08 billion. this matters to us greatly. and this is happening at a time in which the cattle producers of kansas and across the midwest, including the state of the president today, the drought is so damaging to us. it's also happening at a time in which we've been having a debate about a farm bill. and my farmers in kansas, they'll often say i know we need to do something about reducing spending. we've got to get the deficit under control. in fact, the farm bill that we passed in the senate is a reduction in the farm bill
spending of $23 billion. farmers are not -- no one likes to see something that's important to them go away. but as a result, if this farm bill becomes legislation, direct payments leave, they become the safety net for producers across our country is less, and yet farmers and ranchers say that we have a responsibility as american citizens to give these things up, to reduce the spending that comes our way. but please don't do anything that is damaging to us as far as our ability to earn a living in the free market, in the real world. and so, when we see things like this from the department of jag discouraging -- from the department of agriculture discouraging the use of meat products at a time when the tefrpblts -- temperatures across my state have been over 100 degrees for over a month, 118 around the tkpwhrob, -- globe,
in norton, kansas, rain is so scarce we spend a lot of time on our knees praying for moisture. we need to make sure the things we do in this congress, the things the obama administration does within their administration is not something that diminishes the chance for survival for family farms in the united states, certainly at home in kansas and around rural america. so if this was just an isolated instance, perhaps the point had been made and the words have been withdrawn. but i remember we started just a year ago with the department of labor that concluded we need to regulate the use of 14- and 15-year olds on family farms. a real misunderstanding of how production agriculture, how family farms work in our country. agriculture is a family operation, and yet we have a department of agriculture suggesting someone 15 years old perhaps should not be able to
work on their own family's farm. i remember just half a year ago, six month ago or so i was on the senate floor worried about a department of agriculture forum on animal safety that was being organized by the humane society. again, my farmers and ranchers would say, particularly at a time of drought and a time in which the safety net provided by a farm bill is going to become less, please don't do anything that's harmful to us, that reduces the chances for us to succeed. and in this regulatory environment that we find ourselves in, you are -- we need to take the steps that promote agriculture, not those things that diminish the opportunity for a farmer or rancher to earn a leaving in the free market. yesterday we had a debate about estate taxes and the consequences to family agriculture across the country. again, at a time in which the drought is so prevalent, circumstances so difficult, the tax code matters greatly and the ability to pass a family farm
from one generation to the next is a critical thing. and it is so much about agriculture in states like mine that when our farmers and ranchers don't succeed, the opportunities for the communities in which they live and great their kids greatly diminish. this is a great of life for us, and we need to make certain we have a department of agriculture that is promoting our farmers and ranchers and their success. i was on the floor yesterday with the senator from wyoming. we had a conversation about the drought and estate taxes and the farm bill. i'd be interested in knowing, if i could yield to the senator from wyoming, any thoughts. i know he's a leader in the western caucus, members of the senate. and we are in the process of writing secretary vilsack in regard to the promotion of meatless monday. i would also add before i yield to the senator from wyoming, those who have a different view of what their menu should be and what they want to eat, that's
fine with me. that's a personal decision. but the department of agriculture ought to be supportive of the people who produce the food, fiber and energy for our country each and every day, who get up at sun rise and go to bed at sunset because they're trying to make a living on the family farm. i would yield to the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: i would never in my life imagined that i would have seen the united states department of agriculture come out against farming, ranching, against agriculture, against the products. i was on a radio station talking this morning in afton, wyoming. they were astonished. they hadn't heard the news of this yet. they now are fully aware of it, and they're grateful to actually the senator from kansas because one of the, one of those involved actually heard the senator on the floor last night talking about this meatless mondays and the usda linking
ranching, farming to climate change. it's not just cattle and beef producerrers -- and beef clearly is the number-one cash crop of wyoming. but for our farmers. this usda, they've gone after dairy products: milk, cheese, all as part of a climate change issue. so this does seem to be an assault against a way of life, a significant part of our country's heritage, as well as our economic future. we see this assault on our products through the department of agriculture. we see it as an assault on family values of young families, workers working together. we've seen with the department of labor. now yesterday with a vote on this senate floor, an attack by a reinstitution of the death tax. the death tax.
when we had a point where people are trying to keep a family operation within the family, a ranch or a farm and all across rural america, the small businesses in communities all across the country finding that it's going to be much more difficult under what the democrats voted for yesterday to keep that in the family. i know farmers and ranchers in wyoming where a member of the family works in town just to make the money to pay the expenses of keeping the operation going, the farm or the ranch, and knowing full well that if under the democrat proposal someone were to die, once that becomes the case that their chances of being able to hold on to that operation are reduced to almost nothing. that they, the costs and the taxes by the death tax bringing it back to the levels of the clinton administration, where anything over $1 million in assessed value would be taxed at
55%. the only solution is to sell. and it just does seem -- i mean, that's three specific attacks. the death tax attack, meatless monday attack, attacks on children helping out on the family farm or helping out the neighbors, the values that they learn through the f.f.a. -- all of those things make you wonder what direction is the country heading in, which i guess is no surprise when americans all across the country, only one in three saying the country is heading in the right direction. so i'm happy to join my colleague from kansas who has come to the floor yesterday to bring this to the attention of the senate. and he and i are working together to now address the secretary of agriculture to make sure something like this doesn't happen again and to make sure that the secretary does insist that farmers and ranchers across this country and the products
that they make and should be promoted by the department of agriculture, receive the proper honor that is deserved to them for what they do to to in put food on the table and continue to bring forth the value of those that have built this great country. so i thank my friend and colleague, the senator from kansas, for bringing this to the attention of the senate. mr. moran: madam president, just to conclude my remarks, i would indicate that me and my family will be eating more beef, not less. and i would urge americans to respond in that way. it is an opportunity for us to support the cattlemen, the livestock producers in our country at a time in which they're selling their herds because the drought is so severe that there is no grass, no feed to feed the cattle. the market is depressed.
prices are lower because there are so many sales occurring. we can help our cattle producers by having a hamburger, a steak. let's go back to that traditional american meal of let's eat beef. the front of my truck at home says "eat beef." i would encourage kansans and americans to do so because our farmers because of the drought are struggling so greatly. i would yield the floor, madam president. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. excuse me. wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: swoubgs. mr. barrasso: thank you, madam president. madam president, i come to the floor today as i do week after week since the health care law was passed to give a doctor's second opinion about the health care law that i believe is bad for patients, bad for the providers, the nurses and the doctors who take care of those
patients. and terrible for the american taxpayers. and i come to the floor today reminding myself and the senate of some promises the president made during the health care debate. the president had a couple of key promises. the first was he stated that health insurance premiums would go down. the second promise he made is he said if you like your insurance plan, you can keep your insurance plan. now, the president actually reiterated this second point after the supreme court issued its decision regarding the health care law a few weeks ago. from the east room of the white house, the president proclaimed -- and i quote -- "if you're one of the 250 million americans who already have health insurance," he said, "you will keep your health insurance." madam president, perhaps the president does not know that his health care law has already forced many colleges and
universities to stop offering their student health plans. or perhaps the president is unaware that you can no longer purchase a child-only health insurance policy in many states, including my home state of wyoming. apparently the president has not spoken to businesses across the country who must actually deal with the ramifications of his health care law. well, i speak with business owners around wyoming every weekend as he travel around the state and the people that i speak with, they believe that it the increase the cost of their insurance, increase the cost of their care and make it more difficult to provide insurance for their employees. now we have a new study, a report that has come out from the consulting firm deloitte, and it's spoken to businesses all across the country about the law. the results were compiled in their 2012 survey of employers. thiin this report, the company d
random surveys of 570 companies with 50 or more employees. these are companies that currently offer health insurance to their employees. so, what are the results? the results are not encouraging. they found approximately one in ten employers are considering dropping the health coverage that they currently supply to the employees and dropping that insurance over the next few years. specifically, they found that 9% of companies expect to drop their insurance coverage while another 10% of respondents said they weren't sure about how they would proceed. the surray revealed that small businesses, those with between 50 and 100 workers, are going to be hit especially hard by this new health care law. 13% of these businesses in this category stated that they would drop their insurance coverage in
the next one to three years. in the next one to three years, 13% of all of those small businesses between 50 and 100 employees plan to drop their insurance -- one to three years. now, keep in mind in the nonpartisan congressional budget office, when they did some evaluations, they thought that only 7% of workers would lose their employer-provided health insurance starting in 2014 because of the law. of course, the president, looking straight into the camera, straight from the white house, said, if you like what you have, you can keep it. companies also made it clear that how implementation of the health care law moves forward would impact their decisions. well, how so? well, let's take an example. approximately one-third of the companies stated that they might decide to stop offering health insurance if they find that the law that was passed by the democrats in this senate, in this body, partisan lines -- so if these companies find that the
health insurance under the law required by the law, if they have to offer more generous benefits than they currently provide, they are likely -- one third -- to continue -- to discontinue providing health insurance. now, why is that? well, it is because the president's health care law actually mandates what kind of insurance companies must give to their employees. this is what's called the essential health benefits package, or as most americans refer to it as government-approved insurance. it may not be the insurance you want, may not be the insurance you like, neigh not b may not be insurance you need, may not be the insurance you can afford, the president and those who supported this law say they know better than the american consumers, the american workers, and the people in need of insurance. so instead of allowing businesses and workers to decide
what kind of insurance they need, the health care law empowers federal bureaucrats to make this decision. now, in an recall that recently appeared in "the wall street journal," the chief financial officer of mcdonald's said that he thought that implementing the health care law could cost his company more than $400 million a year. so businesses that decide they can't afford to offer this government-approved insurance are going to be forced to pay a penalty. so how big is the penalty? that's a legitimate question. the supreme court says it's a tax -- a tax. they're going to have to pray a tax. -- to pay a tax. so for companies over 50 employees, they will have to pay, starting at $2,000 per worker. that sounds like a lot of money, but keep this in mind. in 2011, it was found that the average cost of employer-provided health insurance for families was over $15,000.
so they can decide, do they pay the government $2,000 -- that tax -- or do they pay $15,000 for the insurance? this means many companies would have a sizable financial incentive to simply drop the insurance. so then what happens in? what happens to these folks that previously had the insurance that the president said they could keep -- of course we all know that they can't because once again the president misled the american people ... i believe intentionally -- well, then these employers who are dropped would have to enroll in a government-run exchange. many of these individuals woul d qualify for subsidies from the federal government to help them purchase insurance. subsidies to help them pay for insurance that they were previously getting at work, but now because of the health care law they can't get it there
anymore, so who's going to end up subsidizing this in well, the american taxpayers are now going to be paying for the health insurance instead of the employer. this is not -- this is not only going to cause many americans to lose their health insurance, but it will also make the trillion-dollar health care law even more expensive than the congressional budget office said this past week. many businesses surveyed stated that they do intd on dumping the health insurance plans, but they said something else: they're not going to stop providing it but instead employers are saying that hey, the workers, if you want to keep this, you're going to have to pick up additional costs of your insurance coverage and you're going to have to do it, helping to pay higher co-pays, higher deductibles, or participating and contributing to the higher premiums that they're going to are to pay.
so for those americans lucky enough to keep their employer-provided coverage, they will be now paying more money for that privilege. this means employees have essentially two alternatives under this health care law. either they will lose their employer-provided coverage or they will be facing higher insurance premiums. for over 150 million americans who receive their insurance through their employer, neither of these choices is a good one. it didn't have to be this way, and that's why i remain committed to repealing the president's health care law and replacing it with patient-centered reforms that will allow patients to get the care they need from a doctor that they choose at lower cost. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: i'm here to
talk about two very different subjects, two very different bills. one is the farm bill, one is the violence against women act. but both bills are stuck over in the house of representatives. both bills should pass. both bills received significant bipartisan support in the united states senate, and i'm simply asking my colleagues in the other house to get their job done an get these bills passed. i'll start with the farm bill. minnesota is fifth in the country for agriculture, madam president. it means a lot to our statement it means a lot in the rural areas but it is also tied into our metropolitan area with our farm businesses, with our food producers, and it is clearly tied in with the rest of the country. this brings talk of crop burned away under the extreme summer heat. farmers and ranchers across the country are experiencing what the united states department of agriculture is calling the most widespread drought we've seen in decades. nearly 90% of the corn and
soybean crops being grown in areas impacted by the drought -- the crop losses are being felt not just by our grain farmers but also driving up feed prices for our live stocks, for our poultry and for our dairy producers. as you well know, dairy producers have already come off some very difficult years. higher feed costs for cattle, pork, poultry and dairy impact all americans at the grocery store. yesterday the usda estimated that consumers could expect to pay 3% to 4% more for grocery next year. while some people might think that food magically appears on their tables, in minnesota we no that that food is produced every day by our farmers. farmers stand behind each general mills' box of cheerios or every jennyo turkey on the table. i'm also reminded of the critical role that farming plays in our state's economy and in our country's economy.
it has has in fact been one of e brightest spots. we all benefit from a strong farm economy that brings jobs on the farms, mills, processing plants and equipment manufacturers. while congress can't do anything about the lack of rain, we shouldn't make this disaster worse by delaying the passage of the farm bill which gives farmers and ranchers the assistance that they need to help weather this disaster and the certainty that they need to make plans for next year and the year after and after. the fact that the 2008 farm bill was a five-year time period was key to the stability in the rural areas. it was key. farmers could plan ahead. it made a difference during the yanaton. we need do that same thing again. i think it's a mistake for the house leadership to delay further action on the farm bill. these bills are never easy, but in the senate, we were able to
work through 70 amendments before passing the bipartisan farm bill with a strong 64-35 vote. maybe they should do the same thing. as part of our responsibility to do more with fewer resources, this bill includes over $23 billion in cuts over the 2008 farm bill. we eliminated direct payments. further focused farm payments on our family farmers and worked to eliminate fraud and waste through the farm bill to ensure that these programs are efficient and targeted. president eisenhower was famou famously quoted as a.i.g. saying this. "farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're 1,000 miles from the farm field." i fear some here have that enthat same position and are content with kicking the can down the road and leaving rural america in a lump. well, those of us in the united states senate who supported this bill -- democrats and
republicans -- were not content with putting our heads in the hand. we weren't content with letting the crops burn out on the field. we wanted to get something done. there are those in the house, like representative collin peterson of minnesota, who are trying valiantly to get this through the house. we must threat them do it. the senate passed a five-year farm bill, and it is important. it is important because it strengthens the crop insurance program. it fun funds livestock disaster programs for this year and continues the program through the end of the farm bill. it ensures that the programs that farmers use to help get through tough times like emergency financing credit program will be continued with unbroken service. the farm bill also includes two of my amendments that will help farmers get through these tough times. the first amendment reduces the cost of accessing crop insurance by 10% for beginning farmers. this is critical because
beginning farmers are less able to afford crop insurance protection and under greater financial stress because of the drought. the second amendment eliminates the penalty for beginning farmers that graze livestock on c.r.p. land of the this will help beginning ranchers struggling with high feed prices and will also benefit all livestock producers by freeing up corn to be fed to other animals. secretary vilsack is working to help producers with the drought. the usda has streamlined the disaster declaration process reducing the time it takes to get help. they reduce the interest rate for emergency loans and also reduce the penalty for producers grazing livestock on conservation reserve program acres from 25%-to-down 120%. while these are important steps, they in no way replace the help that farmers in this country will get from that farm bill. and we all know that it's not
just a farm bill. it is a food bill. only 14% of this that we look at is the farm programs. the rest are conservation programs, the rest are important school lump programs. this is a farm bill for the country, not just the rural areas. but we can see anyone that drives through wisconsin, anyone that thrives through indiana or missouri or iowa can see firsthand why we need that safety net for our farmers, why we need the safety net for the our country. we plead with the house to get this done, follow the leadership of collin peterson and those of us in the senate on a bipartisan basis who got this farm bill done. they need to take it to the floor. madam president, there's a second bill that's also been hung up, a bipartisan bill that received significant support in the united states senate. in fact got the support of every single woman senator in this body, democrat and republican. and that is the violence against women act. here in the senate we passed that reauthorization bill in april on a bipartisan 68-31
vote. getting to that point was a thank you road. it wang always clear that we were going to pass the bill. just like the two reauthorizations from the year 2000 and 2006, our bill strengthens current law and provides solutions to problems that we have learned more about since the violence against women act was first passed in 1994. aand ever since then, the bill has been able to get through both houses 0en a bipartisan basis without significant controversy. we do not want to be going back in time. we do not want to be going back to a time when we treated women who were victims of domestic violence like they weren't really victims, like it was something that they should just expect to happen. we don't want to turn back on the great strides that we've made. one of the improvement improvements that's in this current bill focuses on a particularly underserved communities, women living in tribal areas. we have a number of reservations
ireservationsin in minnesota and it's a heartbreaking reality that they experience sexual assaults that are much higher than the national average. our conclude, the judiciary committee on which i serve, worked closely with the indian affairs committee to come up with some commonsense solutions to the horrific levels of domestic violence and assault in tribal areas. one of the problems on tribal lands is that currently tribal courts do not have jurisdiction over non-indian defendants who abuse their indian spouses on indian lands even though more than 50% of native women are married to non-indians. the bipartisan senate bill addresses this problem by allowing tribal courts to prosecute non-indians in a narrow set of cases that meets three specific criteria. the crime must have occurred in indian country. the crime must be a domestic violence offense. and the non-indian defendant must live or work in indian country. that is the way we get these
cases prosecuted. i don't think we really believe the federal courts are going to come in and handle all these domestic violence cases. this is the pragmatic solution that protects these native american women. as we were considering the violence against women act on the floor, many of us had to work very hard to get the message out there that vawa was and always has been a bipartisan bill, one that law enforcement and state and local governments strongly support. throughout this entire process, under the leadership of senator leahy and republican senator crapo, who did this bill together from the beginning, i found it very helpful that whenever i needed to tell people why we needed to pass a reauthorization bill, i could point to the great work that my state is doing to combat domestic violence. there's the legacy of paul and sheila wellstone, who were they at the beginning ushering this bill through in 1994. minnesota is the home to many nationally recognized program, hannepin county domestic
violence service center that was i was honored to be in charge of during my eight years as country attorney in hannepin county, a nationally recognized center. we opened one of the first shelters in the country in 1974 and the city of duluth was the first is he to require its police officers to make arrests in domestic violence cases. i've learned about a unique domestic violence court that sterns county -- that's the area around saint cloud -- has implementing flown vawa grants. the partnership, which involves trained people from all levels of the criminal justice system, has allowed 58% of the victim participants to separate from their abusers. washington county relies on cutting-edge research to provide direction for officers to take appropriate action when responding to domestic violence calls. it's the only program of its kind in the entire country. these are the kind of innovative initiatives from law enforcement that's especially critical to
combating violence and are directly a result of that domestic violence against women act that we have worked so hard to pass in past years in this congress. i want to stress just how crucial it is that we get this bill signed into law. we've made a lot of progress over the years and we've been able to work together across the aisle to build on vawa's successes. but we shouldn't just send any bill to the president. as you know, the house has passed its own reauthorization of vawa which unfortunately does not include many of the improvements that the senate bill includes, including the one i mentioned on tribal courts. it also rolls back some of the important improvements that have been made to vawa in the past. i'm hopeful that we will be able to iron out these differences as we move forward but i strongly believe that the improvements that were included in the senate bill should remain a part of the bill that gets sent to the president. i hope that our colleagues in the house will follow the suit of the senate with this domestic
violence bill, pass a bipartisan bill, get this done and get it done soon. it simply isn't that hard. you just look into the eyes of a domestic violence victim, you look into the eyes of the children and you know it isn't that hard. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. kyl: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: thank you. madam president, i just wanted to make a very brief comment primarily for the benefit of our republican colleagues who have been inquiring about whether or not we would have and when we would have a vote to invoke cloture to proceed to the cybersecurity legislation. i'm hopeful that we can do that very soon. from my perspective, it would be wise for us to move forward, to go to the bill and see if we can work things out. there have been discussions between various groups who are interested in the subject. they are now all talking to each other, which is a very good sign because it's amazing how when senators get together and talk to each other, sometimes we can
actually accomplish things in a bipartisan way. so my hope is that we can do that. if it turns out it doesn't work out, we can always vote "no" at the end of the day. but i believe that we should go forward, that we should get on the bill and, therefore, i intend to support cloture on the motion to proceed to the cybersecurity legislation. i thank my colleagues for yielding. mr. cornyn: madam president? madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president, i appreciate courtesies of my colleague from maryland and i promise, i'm going to be just no more than ten minutes. two years ago, members of both parties in this chamber recognized that america's economic recovery was fragile, too fragile to absorb a tax increase. since then, obviously my colleagues across the aisle have changed their minds and experienced a change of heart. yesterday the senate voted to raise taxes. i've been amused by some of the headlines that i've read that says that the senate voted to
cut taxes, which is false. the senate didn't vote to cut taxes. the senate voted to maintain the tax rates that have been in existence for 12 years for a certain class of taxpayers while raising taxes on everyone else. i can't explain the logic behind this vote. i can only assume that it is some election-year calculus designed to galvanize the political base of our friends across the aisle. it most definitely is not good economics and it is not good for job creation. for three years, it's no secret america's been living through the weakest economic recovery since the great depression. we know from history, from economics, and from common sense that the last thing you want to
do amid a persistently slow economic growth is to dramatically raise taxes on income investment. if you want more economic activity, if you want growth, you don't burden it further. you relieve those burdens which allow it to flourish and grow, which creates prosperity and jobs. and yet our friends across the aisle just voted to raise taxes on nearly 1 million american businesses. many american businesses don't operate as a corporation, they operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership -- in other words, mom-and-pop operation -- or even as a subchapter-s or some other legal entity which causes business income to be paid on individual tax returns, not on a separate corporate tax return. the bottom line is, when you raise taxes on people in the top tax brackets, you inevitably are
going to capture in this instance a million different individuals paying business income on an individual tax return, which is bad for the economy and bad for job. -- bad for jobs. we should make no miss sake aboumistake aboutit. given our anemic growth rates, given the ongoing debt crisis in europe and given the economic slowdown in china and other emerging market countries, raising taxes on so many job creators could easily tip the u.s. economy back into recession. you know, if you take yesterday's vote to increase taxes on so many small businesses, together with the unwillingness to deal with the single largest tax increase in america history which will occur on december the 31st, 2012, and something that's been called tax-mageddon, when all of the other tax provisions, virtually
all the tax provisions in the code will expire, the ones passed 12 years ago, you combine that huge tax increase with the sequestration, $1.2 trillion, which is -- comes disproportionately out of defense spending, and without exception the economists i've talked to say we will be in a recession. why is it that our colleagues across the aisle are willing to risk putting america back into recession just to raise taxes? i can't understand that. unless they've taken some kind of poll, done some kind of focus group that have laid out some strategy which is not readily apparent to most people. so the idea this tax increase would solve our fiscal problem is laughable. as my good friend, the republican leader, said yesterday, the additional revenue generated by the taxes
that our democratic friends voted for yesterday wouldn't fund the government for a week. a week. and that's before we consider the harmful impact on the economy and jobs. whenever i talk to business owners back home in texas, they express utter bewilderment as to why members of congress would want to raise taxes during the current economic environment. don't our friends across the aisle realize how many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat? don't they realize that our byzantine tax code and misguided regulations are already strangling job creation? don't they always that our national unemployment rate has been stuck at more than 8% for 41 consecutive months? no one here wants to see another recession. but apparently some were willing to risk a recession by putting i
had llideology ahead of sound ec policy. after last night's vote, i thought of all the texas entrepreneurs, more than 400 of them, who've contacted my office sending their personal, inspiring american success stories. these stories remind us that the american dream is still alive and it's inextricably intertwined with our free enterprise system. it's not a gift from government. it's what people earn as a result of hard work and the opportunities given to them in this great country. these stories remind us the american dream isn't dependent upon government assistance. it's not about taxing certain people to pay for ideologically driven government projects, like solyndra. it's about offering all americans the opportunity to earn their success and achieve their dreams. my office has received literally
hundreds of entrepreneur success stories from texas, stories like that of gary murray, a vietnam veteran who came home from the war after three tours as a marine in vietnam who spent two decades working at i.b.m. and then launched his own fencing club. fencing club. for more than a quarter century, gary's round rock fencing club has been training young texans and producing world-class tale talent, including two olympians and one world champion and eight national champions. it's a remarkable story about someone deciding this is what they want to do, this is where their passion lies, making the most of it, creating opportunities for other people. gary started the round rock fencing club with his own money, without any financial support from the government. what he achieved, he achieved on his own.
his story is a testament to hard work and human creativity. as gary puts it, the only support i got was from my wife and from my family. there are many other business owners like gary murray all across texas and all across this great country. before my colleagues advocate higher taxes on these businesses, perhaps they should spend some time talking to the job creators and small business people and the entrepreneurs about the myriad challenges and obstacles that government places in their way because of high taxes and overregulation. i suspect my colleagues might learn something. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent that hal first, a presidential management
fellow, be granted the privileges of the floor during the duration of the debate of s. 3414. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: madam president, i have taken the floor before to talk about the health care reform bill, comment on the supreme court decision which i believe history will show was clearly the right decision. it was the right decision on the law, giving the congress the power to legislate in an area where there is a national need, as the legislature did in the 1930's with social security and the 1960's with medicare, to help reform proposals that were adopted by congress. it was within the purview of the legislative branch of government, the supreme court upheld that right and that decision. i also said it was the right decision because it allows us to move forward on a payoff towards universal coverage where all americans are guaranteed access
to affordable health care. america will now join all the other industrial nations of the world to say health care is a right, not a privilege. the legislation that was passed, the health reform bill, has already helped american families. let me just talk about one area, we could talk about many, but what it has done in protecting our consumers against the practices, the arbitrary practices of health insurance companies. we already see that is in effect where families are being able to take advantage of the fact that there is no longer any lifetime caps on health insurance policies, and by 2014, we will eliminate annual caps on benefits on the health insurance plans. we already have seen for our children the elimination of preexisting conditions, so our children can get policies without having restrictions on what is covered and what is not covered. by 2014, we will see that the preexisting conditions for everyone will no longer be an
obstacle to full insurance coverage. that's particularly important for women, where we know at times they have been held to be a preexisting condition because of a pregnancy or being the victim of domestic violence. we have seen discrimination in premiums against women. that no longer will be the case. and i could talk about many marylanders who are happy today because they can keep on their parents' insurance policies the fact that they have aged past 21, they can now stay on that policy to age 26. but, mr. president, i want to talk about one other aspect of this law that may not be quite as familiar to our constituents. this provision will take effect on august 1, but we already are seeing the benefits. what i'm talking about is the 80/20 rule where health insurance companies must give value for the premium dollar to the beneficiary.
at least 80% of the dollars we pay for premiums must go for benefits. let me share with you a letter that i received from one of my constituents. she wrote i recently had a pleasant surprise. two checks from my health care insurer that were rebates on premiums paid. i am someone who has to buy individual health coverage and have been doing so for the last eight years. the premiums are high and the deductible is high. i'm essentially paying a high price for catastrophic coverage while still paying for individual doctor visits, prescriptions, et cetera. it is frustrating but the choices are limited and expensive for individual coverage. you don't really know how good your coverage is because you don't use it unless you have to make a major medical event. our premiums go up every year despite the fact that we don't
make claims. this month i receive a check in the amount of $139 from our current insurer and over $300 from a previous insurer. both checks were rebates as a result of the new health care act. i didn't realize it, but the act requires insurance companies to use 80% of the premiums they collect on health care costs, and neither of them hit that percentage and were thus required to provide a refund. wonderful. the bill is so complicated that i do not understand a great deal of it, but i am pleased with this aspect which seems to go a long way in helping keep health care costs reasonable and prevent consumers from being gouged, so thanks to the senator and all who helped with this health care act. mr. president, i bring this to my colleague's attention because there is going to be millions of americans who are going to be getting rebate checks, and some are going to start scratching their heads, wondering where
it's coming from. they're going to be saying gee, i guess i made a mistake in the premiums i paid, they are returning them. they are getting those checks because of the passage of the health reform bill. and the provision in the health reform bill that requires insurance companies to give value for the premium dollars that we pay. that protection is now the law of the land. thanks to the acts of congress, president obama and the supreme court upholding the law, those rebates are going to be received for a number of people in the country, it's 12.8 million americans who are going to get rebate checks worth about $1.1 billion. average rebate, $151. that's real money for people who are struggling with their health care needs. i'm proud in the state of maryland, there is going to be $27 million made available to 141,000 marylanders with an
average rebate of $340 for those who get rebates in my state. let me break this down a little bit further. in the individual market like the person i received a letter from, the rebates for the people in maryland actually will be -- average a higher amount. they will average $496. i think that speaks to the fact that insurance companies have hedged their bet in the individual market. they tell us that we have to charge a lot more because we don't know what we're getting. in reality, they are making a lot more money in the individual market. so for the people of maryland, 38,000 of them are going to get on average close to $500 in rebates, thanks to the passage of the affordable care act, thanks to the passage of health reform and thanks to the supreme court upholding our right to do it. the same thing's true in the small group markets where we find that there will be
3.3 million americans who will get rebate checks that are in the small group markets. these are the markets, of course, again the options were not as great, more difficult because of insurance carriers not as anxious to ensure -- insure people in small group markets as they are in the larger markets. the average rebate per family will be $174. in maryland, that number again is higher, $310 for 13,000. and, mr. president, it also applies to those that are in the large group markets. these are the large plans. they also are going to see rebates because the insurance carriers charged he can assessive fees, and they're going to get premium dollar rebates. 5.3 million americans that are in these large plans will see rebates that average $135. in my own state of maryland, it will be 89,000 with rebates
averaging almost $268 a family. these are one-year numbers. these continue every year. so let me tell the people of maryland, let me tell the people of the country what you can expect. you might get a check. it will be delivered to you in the mail. it will be a rebate check. that's as a result of the passage of the health reform bill. you might also see a deposit into the account that automatically pays for your health premiums because the insurance carrier can make a direct deposit into the accounts which are paying for these premiums. or it's possible you might find a reduction of future premiums that can use it to reduce your future premiums but they have to let you know that. they have to let you know you're getting the rebates but they can be applied against future premiums. or if the employer is paying the premiums, the rebates will go to the employer but the employer must use it to benefit your
plan. they can't use it for themselves. it's used again to help the beneficiaries, and you will get notice of that. my purpose again is to make it clear that you would not have gotten these rebates but for the protections that are in the affordable care act. i know my colleague from vermont and i have been on the floor many times pointing out that all americans, not just those who don't have insurance today, not just those who might have been discriminated against because of preexisting conditions, not only that 24-year-old who is now on her parents' policy, but all americans benefit from the affordable care act, the protections that are in there. and now millions who thought they were being treated fairly by their insurance companies are going to be able to get rebates because of excessive premiums. the rule works in combination with another provision of the law that requires rate friew -- review to ensure premium
increases are reasonable. in other words, we put into the law protections against unreasonable increases in your premiums. insurance companies are now required to justify any premium increases of 10% or higher. most states now have the authority to determine whether these increases are excessive while h.h.s. review rates and states that do not operate under effective rate review programs. that's how federalism should work. states have an opportunity to act, they don't have review, we have national backup and protection to make sure the rate reviews are being handled in the appropriate way. so, mr. president, as our constituents start to get the benefits, another benefit of the health reform bill -- and there are many, many more that are starting to take effect. we have some more of those next week on august 1 -- i just wanted my constituents in maryland and my friends around the nation to know that we have provided that you get value for the premium dollar you pay for
your health insurance, and we have backed that up with enforcement so that if there is excessive premiums being charged, the insurance carriers must rebate those premiums to you, millions of americans will get the benefits starting now, and we're pleased that this type of protection is in the affordable care act. and with that, mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
quorum call:
ms. stabenow: mr. president, i would ask suspension of the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. i'd like to take a few moments just to update folks about what's happening as relates to the very important effort to pass a five-year farm bill for
our country, for our ranchers, for our farmers, for those who care deeply about nutrition and conservation policy for the country. we have over 16 million people, somewhere between 16 million and 20 million people that work in this country because of agriculture, the farm bill, food policy, and we came together -- and i'm very proud of all the work that we did together, to pass a bipartisan farm bill. and in doing that, we sent a very strong message on a number of fronts, that we were committed to certainty for our growers, economic certainty that we understand -- that we understand the need to have long-term policies in place, and we also sent a message about disaster assistance. there's no question, i've spoken on the floor before as my colleagues have, that we have a
very serious situation happening all across our country related to livestock, a broad question now of drought in every region of the country. we've also had areas in addition to drought in michigan and other places where fruit growers have been hit with an early warming and then freeze again. so we've had multiple reasons to care about short-term disaster assistance, and i'm very proud that the bill we passed includes a very, very good livestock disaster assistance program that we made sure was available for this year, and will be very helpful for our life symptom producers. -- livestock producers. we also added provisions for fruit growers that will help those that don't have any access to crop insurance that will include this year, and we looked to the future by putting in new options on crop
insurance, new tools for the risk management agency to be able to develop with growers, with commodity groups across the country, crop insurance so in the future as we see these kinds of weather disasters, they will have more certainty because there will be better coverage, broader kinds of coverage for crop insurance for all commodities, which we don't have today. so we need to pass a farm bill. we need the house to pass a farm bill both for long-term policy but also for disaster assistance right now. we also know that this is an opportunity to have deficit reduction. the only bipartisan effort we have had on deficit reduction on the senate floor and i would argue probably on the house floor as well, bipartisan effort, has been through the farm bill. $23 billion in deficit reduction, major reforms, changing policy, eliminating
four different subsidies that are there when growers don't need them, or for things that they don't plant anymore, and replacing it with a risk-based, market-based system so rereally are there when farmers need us like they do right now. there's a whole range of things that we've done. reforms and strengthening conservation efforts in our country, focusing on the right policies around nutrition, around local food systems and so on. all of that is in jeopardy, mr. president, at the moment. because the house, rather than bringing to the floor the bill passed out of the house committee -- and i should say even though it's different, i would argue it doesn't have all the reforms we have, takes a little different approach on commodities and so on, it's a bill we can work with to come to final agreement on between the house and the senate. but instead of bringing that to the floor, getting it done,
we're now hearing discussions about just passing some kind of a disaster assistance program, which certainly we need to do and we already passed it and we can strengthen it certainly as we move forward to a conference committee, by support doing that as well. but instead of having full five-year farm bill policy, they're talking about kicking the can down the road one more time. seems to be a very popular strategy around here. not one the public wants us to use, but extending a farm bill for another year, no deficit reduction, no reform, no certainty for farmers. and policies that would be extended for another year that don't work for a lot of industries, and then just do some disaster assistance. i think that that would be a disaster, mr. president. and so i strongly urge colleagues, i know that we have colleagues on both sides of the
aisle and i'm grateful to the leadership of the chairman and ranking member in the house for their advocacy and leadership. i know there are people that want to get this done, but we need to know that the house leadership will allow that to happen. so, in fact, we can get real reform, deficit reduction, and the kinds of policies we need in plate that will really solve problems and provide the safety net that all of our farmers need. now, if we end up in a situation of just an extension, what happens? well, as our presiding officer, our distinguished presiding officer knows, it would keep in place a dairy policy for another year that didn't work. 2009, i remember sitting around a table and we were looking what was happening to dairy farmers, folks going out of business, losing the farm because of policies that didn't work. and the house is talking about extending those policies for another year. rather than doing the changes and the reform that we put in place that would help dairy farmers all across the country.
they are talking about an extension that would eliminate about half the support for fruit and vegetable growers we put in place in the last farm bill, i was proud to author that, we strengthened that in this farm bill. it's one of the largest areas of commodities, groups of commodities in the country. and that would not be continued. there are a number of things that frankly would not be continued or available, and there are a number of things that would continue that are bad policy. so if we have a one-year extension, we're continuing something that we rejected here, and everybody on both sides of the aisle in the house and senate said they don't want to do which is direct payments which go to farmers, government payments regardless whether prices are high, prices are low, good times, bad times, they continue even on things you don't grow anymore. we all said that makes no sense. we all said instead we want to
move to a risk-based system and have a strong safety net, be there when farmers and ranchers need us, strengthen crop insurance, make sure farmers have skin in the game, they're sharing in that cost on crop insurance. but that doesn't happen with a simple one-year extension. we continue things that we've all said are not good policy, cost taxpayer money, we shouldn't be spending at a time of huge deficits, we should not have those kinds of subsidies in place. we eliminated four of those. $15 billion in savings alone in the commodity title. and all of that would go away under what the house is talking about. we would be continuing things that people have said were bad policy. everyone talks about reforms and changes, but this would continue the old ways. we eliminated about a hundred different programs,
duplication, they don't work anymore, redundancy, whatever it is, about a hundred different programs we eliminated in what we passed. they would all continue, every single one of them, for another year. if we just do a one-year extension. so, mr. president, let me just say in conclusion that i'm -- i encourage house colleagues to join with us. we can have differences in what a commodity title looks like and i respect those differences and we can work those out if we have the opportunity to negotiate in good faith and get things done. we will do that. we can have differences in what should happen in the nutrition title. but we should be saying to farmers and growers that we're going to walk away from them and put in place another kick the can down the road strategy that keeps bad policy or no policy going, no deficit reduction, and puts us in a situation where frankly a year from now it's tougher, it's a bigger mess than ever, and our growers are
looking around trying to go to the bank or trying to figure out what they're going to do when planting season comes and make decisions, and they're looking at us going what happened here, why did you do this? we did our job in the senate. in a strong bipartisan basis. it was a lot of hard work, it was -- we spent a lot of time here. we need to complete the job. and if our house colleagues will come together with us, if the speaker, the leadership in the house will decide to give us a vehicle through which to do that, i am very confident we can get the job done. thank you, mr. president. mr. lieberman: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. lieberman: mr. president, for the information of my colleagues, i know that the senate leader is in discussions with the republican leader, and
i know the hope is that we can soon have the vote on the motion to proceed to s. 3414, but as yet i not have been informed that there has been the necessary meeting of minds. so i hope it will be soon, and i hope everyone will support it. with that, i would yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota.
mr. hoeven: i ask that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. hoeven: i have a comprehensive plan for energy security for our nation. when i say energy security, i mean producing more energy than we consume. and i believe with this approach, within five to seven years we truly can be a nation that is energy secure. again, meaning we produce more energy than we consume. it is a comprehensive plan for energy security. it is about truly producing all of our energy resources in this country. this package of energy bills, many of these bills have already been passed by the house, and we're introducing now in the senate as well as additional legislation, ideas that senators have put forward that were adding to it as well. really the approach is similar to the approach we have taken in north dakota over the last decade. my home state of north dakota
has developed all of its energy resources, both traditional and renewable, in a vigorous way over the last decade. and we're now really an energy powerhouse for the nation. you've seen what we're doing in oil and gas, but really we're doing a tremendous amount in all other forms of energy as well. again, both traditional and renewable. and it's because we worked in a very inclusive way to include everybody's ideas in building a comprehensive energy plan that we call empower north dakota. there is no one person that came up with this comprehensive plan or all the ideas but we reached out to everyone, all the different energy sectors and said let's collaborate, let's pass a comprehensive energy plan and then let's keep improving it. let's make it a process rather than a onetime product and keep adding ideas and bringing forth things that will help us spur and drive our energy development
in the state, things that will create the kind of business climate that will truly empower private investment, private investment that will deploy the new technologies that not only produce more energy, but do it with sound environmental stewardship. and that's exactly what's happening in north dakota. that's exactly what we have -- what we need to do at the national level. this domestic energy and jobs act clearly demonstrates that we have an energy plan and that we're ready to go and that we're coordinating with our colleagues in the house as well. there are 30 sponsors for this legislation, including the republican leadership as well as the energy leaders. it also is a plan that we've reached out to what the house calls their heat team, which stands for house energy action
team. representative mccarthy and others, certainly fred upton, who is head of their energy and commerce committee, representative hastings and others who are truly energy leaders in the house. people who i've worked with on things like the keystone pipeline. representative terry and representative connie mack and others. so this is about getting people involved in an inclusive way and putting in place an energy policy that truly serves this nation and empowers private investment. and you see how important that is now. we have hundreds of billions of dollars, investment dollars that is just waiting to be invested, producing more energy, more jobs, more security for our country. this approach will empower private investment to all of our energy resources. it does things like reduce the regulatory burden, streamlines permitting both onshore and
offshore. helps us develop vital infrastructure like the keystone pipeline. it develops our resources on public lands, including our renewables, setting realistic goals with a market-based approach. not picking winners or losers. and preserving multiple use on our public lands throughout this country. it would put a freeze and require a constituted did i have rules that are driving -- a study of rules that are driving up our gasoline prices. it also includes a bill from senator murkowski that directs the u.s. geological survey to establish an inventory of critical minerals in the united states and to set policies to help us develop those minerals. so what is the impact? well, excuse me -- the u.s. chamber of commerce in march of 2011, in march of 2011 undertook a study. in that study, they looked and
determined that there are more than 350 energy projects that are being held up because of inability to get permitted or regulatory burden or other hurdles and roadblocks. in that study, they determined that if these energy projects -- again, more than 50 energy projects, could be green lighted, it would be generate $1.1 trillion, $1.1 trillion in additional gross domestic product. and 1.9 million jobs a year. 1.9 million jobs a year just in the construction phase for those energy projects. so this legislation isn't just about energy for our country. it is about energy. it is about a comprehensive approach. more than 13 different pieces of legislation, many of which have already passed the house. it is about a comprehensive approach to get development of
our energy resources underway in a big, big way. it is about job creation. it is about economic growth. it is about economic growth that will help us get the 13 million-plus people currently unemployed back to work. it is about economic growth that will help us generate revenue to reduce our deficit and our debt. and it truly, it truly is about national security. look what's going on in the middle east. look what's going on in syria, in iran, in egypt with the rise of the muslim brotherhood. look at the stphablt that we still -- look at the instability that we still depend on oil from the middle east in places like venezuela. there is no need for that. we can produce our own energy here and more. it's an interconnected world; we all know that. when i talk about energy security, i mean producing more energy than we consume.
that's what i mean by energy security. of course as you increase supply, what happens? it helps bring prices down. think of the impact that has for our families and for our economy. just recently in the last few days a company called cnook, out of china, which is essentially a chinese government-owned company, offered $15 billion to buy nexim, a major canadian oil company. why did they do that? to buy energy resources in canada so that china would own energy resources in canada. as you know, i've been down here on the floor many times, and i've worked very hard to get the keystone pipeline approved. because if we don't produce and get that oil from canada, somebody else will. and china is working to do just that.
so after the administration held up the keystone x.l. pipeline, what happened? canadian prime minister harper went to china. there he met with chairman hu and the other leaders and the energy leaders of china,nd they signed an m.o.u. -- m.o.m. memorandum of understanding, memorandum of agreement. they said china and canada are going to cooperate on developing energy resources in canada. of course that energy then goes to china. so the question you have to ask, are we going to work with our closest friend and ally -- canada -- to develop things like the keystone pipeline so oil will go from canada to the united states rather than go to china? or are we in this country going to be in a position where we'll have to buy our oil back from the chinese? i know how the americans want that question answered. and that's what i'm talking
about. we need to be developing these energy resources in this country and together with our closest friend and ally -- canada -- and we can do it. and there's another point to be made here. i know that there are opponents of developing the canadian oil sands, concerned about co2 emissions. but here are some things they have to think b already you can see china coming in, working with canada to develop those resources. so those resources are going to be developed. the question is, is that all going to china or is it going to come to the united states in and the point is this: y by building pipelines, we not only bring to the united states, but we empower investment in the canadian oil sands that will help us produce more energy but do it with better environmental stewardship. 80% -- 80% of the new development in the canadian oil sands is what's call insitu, which means drilling, instead of
the excavation. that means lower co2 emissions, that means emissions much more in line -- very much in line with what we produce in the united states with our conventional drilling. so we have an opportunity -- we have an incredible opportunity -- [ennobled [inaudible] like ie can be energy-secure in this country in five years. when people look at what's going on in the middle east, when they see our soldiers over there, when they see the instability that's being created by regimes like syria and iran, when they see what's going on in countries like egypt and they understand that there could be an event that closes the straits of hormuz and they understand what it means for oil and energy prices in this country, we do not want to be dependent on that situation. which means it's time to act.
this is not about spending money. this is about generating jobs and generating revenue that will help us reduce our deficit, that will put our people to work, that will unleash the private sector investment, the entrepreneurship, the ingenuity of the american people to truly propel our nation forward, to propel our economy forward, to make us safer and more secure. the time has come to act. the house passed much of this plan with bipartisan support. we need to do the same in the senate. and this isn't the end of the story. this is an important part -- the foundation, if you will, of building the right energy story for our country. and we can do it. and i urge my colleagues to join me in this effort. thank you, mr. president. with that, i yield the floor.
i also note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
quorum call:
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: thank you, madam president. madam president, there has been a lot of talk and in fact one of the major issues that we as a nation are going to have to deal with, and certainly the presidential candidates will be talking about during the next four months, is the fact that we have a $16 trillion national debt and we have a $1 trillion deficit, and i think all americans understand that this is a very important issue and it's something that we as a nation are going to have to crappal with, and how we deal with that, how we deal with the deficit and the national debt is certainly one of the most
important issues and interesting issues that we're going to have to address. what i find interesting, madam president, is that when we talk about the deficit and the national debt, there seems to be among some of my colleagues a collective amnesia. it is just as if this debt and deficit popped up yesterday and we have no understanding of how we got to where we are today. so i would like to take a moment to remind some of my friends that back in january of 2001, not so many years ago when president bill clinton left office, this country was not running a deficit, it was running in fact a very significant surplus of some $236 billion. that is a very significant
surplus. as a matter of fact, madam president, in 2001, the c.b.o., the congressional budget office, projected that we would have federal budget surpluses totaling $5.6 trillion from 2.2 -- from 2002 until 2011. in other words, clinton left office, a very significant surplus, and the projection was that that surplus was going to go up and up and up. what happened? well, that is a question that we need a little bit of time to discuss because i find it interesting that there is no context for deficit reduction. so let me suggest to you, madam president, in fact that some of the people who come down to this floor, who talk loudest about
the deficit and the national debt are precisely those same people who caused the national debt, 16 trillion and a deficit over a trillion dollars. now, how do we get to where we are today from the time when clinton left office where we had a significant surplus? well, number one, many of our deficit hawks who today are coming down to the floor telling us about all the programs we have to cut for the middle class, for working families, for our children, for the elderly, they are real deficit hawks. my goodness, when it came to the war in iraq, a war which many of us voted against, didn't make a whole lot of sense to us, but we also noted that our deficit hawk friends went to war where i believe the first time in the
history of america forgetting it pay for that war. so i think some of us might hold a little bit in doubt some of the comments of our friends about their real sincerity and their concern about deficit reduction when they went to a war in iraq which will end up after we take care of the last veteran wounded in that war 80 years from now or whatever probably at some $3 trillion. well, if you spend $3 trillion going to war and you forget to pay for it, and you come to the floor and you tell us how concerned you are about the deficit and the national debt, some of us are saying well, maybe that saint the case. where were your concerns about the deficit when you went to war, when you had a deficit hawk president named george w. bush?
so that is one of the major reasons we're running a trillion dollar deficit right now. the second reason is you don't have to be a ph.d. in economics to understand it, that if if in the middle of a war you decide to give huge tax breaks, including a trillion dollars over a ten-year period to the top 2% to billionaires and millionaires, so a trillion is not coming in to the federal government, that adds to the deficit. so i ask my good friends, my republican friends where was your concern about the deficit and the national debt when you gave a trillion dollars in tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires? third point i would make. we are in the middle right now of a horrendous recession. unemployment sky high,
underemployment sky high, people have lost their homes, their life savings. people are hurting. this recession was caused by the efforts -- and i must confess, not just a republican effort. the democratic effort. bipartisan desire to deregulate wall street because people believed that if you deregulate wall street and you allow insurance companies to merge with commercial banks, to merge with investor banks and you do away with glass-steagall, my goodness, those folks on wall street, honest people of great integrity will just create wealth for all of americans. that's what green bay alan gree, robert rubben were telling us. i myself never believed that for one moment, it never made an iota of sense to me. anyway, these guys fought for
deregulation, we had deregulation, and as a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on wall street, we were plunged into the terrible recession we are in now. that was one of the points we rarely made on the floor, is that today at 15.4% as a percentage of g.d.p., that revenue at 15.2% as a percentage of g.d.p. is the lowest in more than 60 years. so it is easy for people to come to the floor here and say we have got to cut, cut, cut, but they forget to tell us that as a result of this wall street caused recession at 15.2%, revenue is the lowest as a percentage of g.d.p. in more than 60 years. that is an issue that we have to deal with. but you know what? you don't increase your revenue when you give more tax breaks to
billionaires. you don't increase your revenue when you say that at a time when we have just tripled military spending since 1997, maybe we need even more for the military. that's not a way to reduce the deficit. what do my republican friends and some democrats say, well, we come to the floor and they have suddenly after going to war without paying for it, after giving huge tax breaks to the rich, after deregulating wall street, they suddenly realize that we have a deficit problem, and they're very concerned about this deficit problem. and they come to the floor and they say oh, the only way that we can go forward is to cut social security, because social security is funded independently, hasn't added one nickel to the deficit because we're going to cut social security anyhow. we're going to cut medicare, we're going to cut medicaid,
we're going to cut pell grants, we're going to cut education, we're going to cut environmental protection. that's deficit reduction. are we going to ask millionaires and billionaires who are doing phenomenally well, whose effective tax rate is the lowest in decades to pay one nickel more in taxes? no, no, we can't do that. we can't do that but we can cut social security, medicare, medicaid, education and every program that the children of this country, the seniors of this country, the working families of this country depend upon. now, to add insult to injury in terms of this movement supported by the big money interests who have so much influence over what goes on here in congress, to add insult to injury, it is important to look at the playing field of the american economy today to understand what's going
on. are the people on top really hurting and suffering? are large corporations today really struggling under onerous corporate taxes? the answer is obviously not. madam president, we don't talk about it enough and too few people even mention it, but i do, and i will continue. it is important today to understand that the united states has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income since the 1920's and the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth. now, why is that important? because it's important to know that before you cut social security, medicare, medicaid and education and the ability of working class kids to go to college, you've got to know the condition, how people are doing today, and the middle class today are shrinking, poverty is increasing. and when you cut food stamps and when you cut medicaid, you are
going to hurt a whole lot of people, in some cases very tragically. just last week, a member of my staff went to southwest virginia and she spent a day at a program by which thousands of people in that area were lining up to get dental care and health care because they didn't have any health insurance. 45,000 americans are going to die this year because they don't have health insurance, can't get to a doctor on time, and there are people out there who say let's cut medicaid. people all over this country can't find a dentist. kids are suffering from dental decay. let's cut medicaid. i don't think so. if we look at what's going on in the country, middle class is shrinking, people are hurting, but people on top are doing phenomenally well. madam president, because very few people talk about it, i'm going to talk about it.
in the last study that we have seen in terms of income distribution in this country, income distribution, and that is what happened between 2009 and 2010, 93% of all new income created over that year went to the top 1%. 93% of all new income in that year went to the top 1%. the bottom 99% had the privilege of sharing the remaining 7%. and yet, when we asked the people on top to maybe pay a little bit more in taxes, oh, my goodness, their lobbyists are all over capitol hill saying oh, we can't afford it, we're down to our last $50 billion, we just can't afford another nickel in taxes. and in fact, we need that money now because of united, we can pump -- because of citizens
united, we can pump that money into campaign. a guy worth $20 billion, can't pay more in taxes, but he does have hundreds of millions to pour into political campaigns. madam president, in terms of distribution of wealth, which is a different category, of course, than distribution of income, we have an incredible situation -- and i hope people understand what is going on in this country -- where one family, one family, the walton family of wal-mart now owns more wealth at $89 billion than the bottom 40% of the american people. one family owns more wealth than the bottom 40%. and you know what some folks want to do here? they want to give -- they want
to repeal the entire estate tax and give that family a very substantial tax break because owning $89 billion is obviously not enough. they are struggling. we have got to give them a tax break while we cut social security, medicare and medicaid. now, if that makes any sense to the american people, i would be very surprised, and it does not make sense to the american people. madam president, according to a february, 2011, "washington post" poll, while more than 70% of americans oppose cutting social security and medicare, 81% supported a surtax on millionaires to reduce the deficit. now, my guess is if you go to new hampshire, you go to maine, you go to any other state in america and you say to people we have a deficit problem, the choice is between cutting social
security or asking millionaires or billionaires to pay more in taxes, there is in my view no state in america, no state in this country, no matter how red it may be, where people will say you cut social security and medicare and medicaid but don't raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires. i don't believe that that is true anyplace in america. today, madam president, the top 1% own 40% of the wealth of our nation while the bottom 60% own less than 2%. top 1% owns 40%. bottom 60% owns less than 2%, and i have members of this senate coming down, saying we're going to punish the bottom 60% and we're going to give more to the people on top. madam president, there was a
study that recently came out that talks about the ability of billionaires and corporations to use tax havens. what we know -- and i'm a member of the budget committee -- is that millionaires and billionaires and corporations in this country are avoiding paying about $100 billion every single year by using tax havens in the cayman islands, in bermuda, panama and other countries. maybe, just maybe, before you cut social security and medicare, you might want to pass legislation to make those people start paying their fair share in taxes and do away with those tax havens. so, madam president, let me just conclude by saying we are in a pivotal moment in american history. if we as a nation do not get our
act together, in my view, we will move even more rapidly in the direction of an oligarchy where you will have a few people on the top with incredible wealth controlling not only our economy but also through citizens united the political life of this country, and we're seeing that playing out right here on the floor of the senate with people who are turning their backs on working families and the middle class and at a time when the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well, fighting for more tax breaks for people who absolutely don't need them. now, i hope the american people pay rapt attention to this debate and i hope the american people get involved in this debate because if they do not, mark my words, within four months, a handful of people supported by corporate america and the big money interests are going to bring down to this
floor a deficit reduction proposal which will cut social security, medicare, medicaid and give more tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country. it will have virtually all republican support, it will have some democratic support. and if we don't aggressively oppose that approach, that is exactly what will happen. with that, madam president, i would yield the floor. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i appreciate my friend yielding to me, my dear friend from vermont. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that we now proceed to executive session to consider calendar numbered 755, the nomination of robert e.bacharach of oklahoma. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, robert ebacharach of
oklahoma to be united states circuit judge. mr. reid: i ask consent -- pardon me. so sorry. my mind was someplace else. sorry to say so. i send a cloture motion to the desk with respect to this nomination. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion. we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of robert e. bacharach of oklahoma to be united states circuit judge for the tenth circuit, signed by 10 senators as follows -- mr. reid: i ask the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the quorum under rule 22 be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now ask the senate
resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that at 3:30 p.m. today, the senate proceed to the cloture vote on a motion to proceed -- madam president, what we can do, we'll start the vote at 3:25. if somebody is going to be a little bit late, we'll protect them on that. so i ask consent that we start voting at 3:25 today on the motion to proceed to 3414, the cybersecurity bill. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: may i amend that request and make it 3:22. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: all for my friend from louisiana. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke
cloture. the clerk: we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the motion to proceed to calendar numbered 470, s. 3414, a bill to enhance the security and resiliency of the cyber and communications infrastructure of the united states, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is is it the sense of the senate that debate on the motion to proceed to s. 3414, a bill to enhance the security and resiliency of the cyber and communications infrastructure of the united states, shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. thelerk will call the roll. vote:
the presiding officer: is there anyone in the chamber wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? hearing none, on this vote the yeas are 84. the nays are 11. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. mr. lieberman: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. lieberman: i move for reconsideration and ask that the motion be laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lieberman: i thank the chair, thank my colleagues. i yield to the leader. for that resounding vote which says to me not that the debate is over but the debate is going to begin and an overall majority members of the senate want to adopt cybersecurity legislation.
i thank the chair and yield to the leader. mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i'm going to shortly be asking consent to pass the annual burma sanctions bill that we renewed about this time every year for the last decade. the bill was reported out of the finance committee on a voice vote last week along with a package of other unrelated measures as part of s. 3326. some of my colleagues have some concerns about those other sections. this is unrelated -- unrelated -- to the burmese freedom and democracy act. as i indicated, i've offered on behalf of my colleagues -- in fact, what i've done here in discussions off the floor is offer on behalf of my colleagues to find a time to set up a vote on s. 3326, and i believe a vote
is the best way to resolve the impasse surrounding this bill. however, our friends on the other side have not yet agreed to that. in the absence of a vote on the larger bill, i think the best way to proceed is for the senate to go ahead and pass this important and noncontroversial foreign policy measure today. this is a very timely issue. these sanctions actually expire today. and if we don't act now to extend them, i don't know when the senate will have a chance to address this important issue. consideration of this year's burmese freedom and democracy act comes amid historic changes that are occurring on the ground in burma, aung san suu kyi, long a political prisoner of the country, is now actually a member of the parliament. the national league for democracy wants a completely banned organization now actively
participates in political life in burma. for these reasons and others, the administration, which i support, has taken a number of actions to acknowledge the impressive reforms that president sein and his government instituted thus far. the u.s. responded by sending an ambassador to burma. that's the first time we've had an ambassador there in two decades. the administration also largely waived the investment ban and financial restrictions permitting u.s. businesses to begin investing in that country. however, significant challenges in burma still lie ahead. ongoing violence in the sectarian tensions reflect the long-term challenge confronting the country related to national reconciliation. hundreds of political prisoners
remain behind bars. the constitution still has a number -- a number -- of totally undemocratic elements. and the regime's relationship with north korea, especially when it comes to arms sales with pyongyang, remains an issue of grave concern to us. sanctions with respect to burma should be renewed in order to provide the administration with the flexibility it needs to encourage continued reforms in that country, to encourage the government to tackle these remaining tough issues. failure to renew the sanctions could undermine the administration's diplomatic efforts in burma, which i support, and could send the wrong signal to the burmese government that they've done all they need to do, but where are we? therefore, madam president, the only way i see getting this resolved in time to keep the
sanctions from expiring today is for the senate to go ahead and pass this and ask the house to pick it up and pass it as soon as they return next week. hopefully we can resolve this extremely important issue that other members have with other sections of 33 -- s. 3326, completely unrelated to the effort to renew burma sanctions, and pass the, those other important trade priorities next week. in the meantime, this is a terrible message for us to be sending -- this is an extremely big issue. it may sound like a small issue here. it's a big issue in burma. secretary clinton has been there. i've been there. senator mccain has been there, senator collins, senator feinstein has been active on this issue. this is no small matter in a country we have been hoping would move in the direction of reform and finally is.
now, i know there's always a debate about whether sanctions have made a difference. when i was in burma in january, in addition to meeting with suu kyi, also meeting with government officials, every one of the officials brought up the sanctions. it convinced me it must have made a difference. now because of the changes that have occurred, the administration and, i, who have been involved in this issue for two decades, are in total agreement about how to handle it. renew the sanctions after which the administration will waive a substantial number of them, is a further indication that the sanctions remain there, although not currently operative, because of the changes that have occurred in the country. so, i think it is a big mistake to have this important foreign policy matter attached to and stymied by apparently differences over other unrelated parts of the measure. therefore, i ask
consent that the finance committee be discharged from further consideration of h.r. the, provided further that the senate proceed to its immediate consideration, all after the enacting clause is be stricken and the text of section 3 of h.r. 3326 be inserted in lieu thereof. now, for the information of senators, as i indicated, the burma sanctions language expires today. this would avoid that. so i finally ask consent that the bill be read a third time, passed, and the motion to reconsider be laid on the table. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: mr. president, observe reserving the right to object, i very much appreciate the efforts of the senator from kentucky to keep proposing sanctions on burma. the senate will remember a couple three, four months ago i
went oust my way to prays the senator when he stood up for burma. and in fact you might remember -- your press office called my office and said, thank you. senator baucus thanked the leader. and i meant it. i very much admire the way -- the effort that the senator is undertaking to maintain these sanctions. we're all very proud of aung san suu kyi, winning the nobel prize when she visited europe not long ago in london. i remember watching her on television. she's done so much for her country, and stood up for the people of burma. it is astound. i have not had the privilege of meeting her personally, but i have watched her from afar, and with great admiration and i just -- not only about her but i again thank the senator for his efforts. one can say that the other
matters are unrelated, but one could also say that the burma is right along with the agoa bill. there are thousands of african women who have lost their jobs because we have not acted on the agoa bill, and they send to be single moms -- thousands. because they believe -- they can't get orders to sell -- mr. mcconnell: will the senator yield -- mr. baucus: i'll yield after i explain. consequently, jobs in the united states now are in jeopardy because this bill -- the agoa bill has not been extended. now, it is true that the agoa bill does not expire until the end of september. that is true. however, as a practical matter, these women have lost their jobs already because american companies are not taking orders from african countries who provide their apparel, that
would otherwise be provided for under the agoa bill. so it is a huge issue for those african women, who have lost their jobs, as well as american companies who are in jeopardy because they can't receive the apparel from african countries. if this is not extended -- the cafta bill is similar. that puts in jeopardy a lot of jobs in north carolina and south carolina so in a certain sense it is a jobs bill. biologic of these bills are important. they're very important. and this -- both of these bills are important. they're very important. and this package was put together and agreed to, but senators on the committee, both senators and democrats. it was agreed to by the leadership office on both sides. we worked hard to get consensus around here. and so this was the thought -- put the bills together, all republicans agreed. there was one senator who said
he had a problem with one of the pay-fors. frankly, it is a pay-for that this body has adopted many times, and that senator himself has voted for this pay-for many times. and it's just -- it just seems to me that if we brain the package -- if we break up the package, then the package is broken, it puts in jeopardy those other provisions, senators will want to offer amendments, and the senator from kentucky well knows that once we start going down that road, you know, things get hung up around here. the main point being, these are both very important bills, and other main point being, it was agreed to. this package was agreed to all the way around. i just think at this point it does not make sense to break it up. so i object. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, if i -- the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: yes, if i may, i believe the burma sanctions bill has been renewed without additional matters attached to it for about ten years now on an
annual basis. i am perplexed as to why this year it was turned into a package. i agree with the distinguished chairman of the finance committee, it was agreed to. but there is a dispute here between the chairman of the finance committee and another member of the finance committee who is on the floor, senator coburn, who can speak for himself. i might say, i don't have a dog in that fight. that's -- as far as i'm concerned -- another matter. and no matter how important that may be, i doubt failure to pass the other measure which doesn't expire until september creates a major, potential foreign policy problem which bill could be created by the burma sanctions bill expiring later today. so i won't argue that the rest of the bill is important or unimportant. i frankly don't know much about the rest of the bill.
i do know something about the burma sanctions having been on the floor as we renewed it annually during the ten-year period. and i'm confident that this will be perceived in burma as a problem. it seems to me it's a completely avoidable problem. as to the rest of it, the senator from oklahoma is here. he can speak for himself and i defer to him and to the chairman of the finance committee to discuss the balance of the bill. but it would have been my hope, had the chairman of the finance committee not objected -- it was cleared on my side. it was cleared on my side regardless of previous understandings about putting the package together. it was cleared on my side by the ranking member of the finance committee, senator hatch; by senator coburn, to split the burma sanctions bill up and pass it free-standing today on a voice vote.
so that consent agreement that i offered, which was objected to -- i want to make sure everybody understands that there were no objections to it on the republican side of the aisle. mr. baucus: mr. president? the presiding officer: the objection has been heard to the request of the republican leader. the senator from montana. mr. baucus: mr. president, i do not want to belabor the point here. the administration -- the obama administration is opposed to splitting the package apart. they're in favor of keeping the package as it is. and i think for good reason, because the administration favors both burma as well as agoa-gr-cafta. they're both very important. for that reason, you, i think it just makes sense. you're right. it is just as easy to proceed with burma and agoa. but the leader wants to keep talking -- i'm more and willing over the next week too see -- to
see if we can work this out here. mr. mcconnell: could i ask the chairman a question? mr. baucus: sure. mr. mcconnell: so what i hear is the democratic administration and the democratic senators are opposed to passing the burma sanctions bill today free-standing? is that what i hear -- mr. baucus: that's not what you heard. mr. mcconnell: then why did you object to the consent? mr. baucus: because the administration and myself want them both. mr. mcconnell: but you can't get them both today unless you can work this problem out with my good friend from oklahoma, who is on the floor and may wish to address this matter. but a and as i said, i'm willing -- mr. baucus: as i said, i'm more than willing to sit down and try to work it out. but at this point any attempt to split it up about jeopardize a very important bill here, that's the agoa bill. there are already thousands of women who lost their jobs in africa because of our delay in passing agoa. the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: let me make sure we understand where we are.
the consent agreement to pass the burma sanctions bill today before it expires is cleared on this side of the aisle. clear. the chairman of the finance committee has aens nod to my surprise that the -- has announced to my surprise that the administration does not want to allow the burma sanctions to pass today because it is attached to other matters. we have for the first time in the history of this issue turned it into a partisan matter. we have spoken with one voice in america related to burma under administrations of both parties, senates of both parties and today for the first time we have a partisan split over an issue about which america ought to be speaking with one voice. so i basically have said all i have to say here. i do want to hear from senator coburn. i know he has strong feelings about the other parts of the measure with which i am basically not familiar.
mr. coburn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: you know, first of all, i'd like to say that i support all three of these measures in terms of passing them. what i don't support is continuing the habit that put this country $16 trillion in debt. and to clarify, as a member of the finance committee, if you read my opening statement in that hearing, in that markup, i objected to this bill on the basis of pay-fors. i offered two separate amendments that on the floor everybody would agree are germane because the money to pay for the $200 million comes out of trade areas, and they were rejected as nongermane by the chairman. so they weren't offered because he said he would reject them. so to create the impression that there was no objection to the pay-for in this bill and that everybody agreed is inaccurate.
-- to say the least. i called chris coons, who is interested in this, i've called senator coons from delaware, i called senator baucus when this came up, told him i have a plan so we can get this all done this week. i was willing to lose a vote on the amendment but have an opportunity to offer the amendment and give my side of the story by splitting these so that the house could now pass it. the house has now gone home. burma sanctions are no longer available to be passed except if we were to do something extraordinary with the house, which i understand from the speaker can happen. so burma sanctions could happen this we believe but i want to go back to the more important poi point. whether i voted for something in the past or not, using the type of pay-for that is in this bill, which is what i call wimpy mechanism -- wimpy drives up to wendy's and orders a hamburger and when he gets around to the
pay-for window says, don't worry about it, i'll be back in ten days to pray for it. so what we've done is we've used custom user fees over ten years to collect enough known pay for $200 million. well, with the waste that's in this government, for us to use it a ten-year pay-for for something that's going to be extended over three years means that we're not capable of addressing the very much bigger issues in front of our country. and if we can't even find $200 million in a $3.6 trillion budget, we are unqualified to be here. so what i would say to my friend and my colleague on the senate finance committee, somebody has to start saying "no." and i will remind you of a lecture i got from senator pete domenici on a land bill about two years ago. he said, we've always done it that way. and i said, you know what? you're right. and that's why we're in trouble.
so the financing mechanism on this bill denies the situation that we're in and charges out over ten years custom user fees to pay for it. no other american business, no other company, no other family gets that kind of luxury at all, especially when they're in debt at 105% of their g.d.p. and if you really look at where we are, the average american, what you can say is that really you're taking in $53,000, you're spending $73,000, and what you actually owe is $380,000. and we can't keep doing that because that's how it would relate to the individual family in this country. and so the objection was not on the bills. there was no lack of effort on my part to reach out and solve this problem before now. and now that the minority leader offers a way to solve the problem on the sanctions for
burma, and it's objected to. so not only do we not get to offer amendments in committee, we do not get to offer amendments on the floor, and the -- one of the things that we need to accomplish today we're not going to do because we don't want to allow amendments. because we want to keep doing it the way we've always done it. and the way we always have done it has bankrupted our country and stolen from our grandchildren and children. it's not acceptable anymore. that's the truth. everything else is the game that washington plays. and i will tell my colleagues, i'm still willing to work on this. i have a commitment to the senator from delaware that next week if this comes up, i'll be the first to offer this amendment and get it out of the way and take a very short period of time of the senate. but i want a recorded vote of the senators in this body that they want to steal from custom
user fees for ten years for a $200 million pay-for. if you want to do that, then go out and defend it. instead of taking something this administration has recommended we cut, which is what i'm using to pay for it, something this administration has recommended to pay for it, and vote against your own president says, here's something we need to eliminate. s i don't get it, the american people don't get it. no wonder we have a 9% approval rating. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: i appreciate the opportunity to briefly contribute what i can to this debate. one of the great honors, as you know, mr. president, of being a freshman is the opportunity to preside. i had the opportunity to preside when the republican leader came to the floor and spoke to burma sanctions. so i just wanted to say to the republican leader that because of that speech, i familiarized myself with the issue of burma sanctions that he spoke to earlier. i do think it's important that we move to it.
i do think it's important to move forward on it, but the republican leader made a comment earlier that he doesn't much understand the other part of the bill, which is the african growth and opportunity act. i choose to stand brovelli and speak to that because i am the chair of the african affairs subcommittee, the senate foreign relations committee. senator isakson and i joined with congresswoman bass and congresswoman smith twice in receiving dozens of ambassadors from across the continent three months ago and nine months ago as they expressed their grave concern about the thousands of mostly women all across the continent who are losing their jobs as we delay. the agoa reauthorization expires in september, and i am thankful to chairman baucus for his vigorous renewal in a timely fashion. agoa needs to be renewed promptly. this is because of the urgency of getting agoa reauthorized.
it dates back to the clinton administration. it was first signed into law a dozen years ago. it has, i think, real importance for our view in africa for how the united states is viewed in africa, for our bilateral relation was more than a dozen countries. i would be happy to answer questions about it. but we have three different issues here. the concerns that the senator from oklahoma has raised about the pay-for and i respect his concerns about budget and budgetary discipline in dealing with our deficit. the concerns the republican leader has raised about burma and about sanctions and about our ongoing role as a global leader in pressing for the liberation of people and process in burma and the concerns that i and many other senators have shared about timely reauthorization of the african growth and opportunity act. unfortunately, the three of them intersect in a way that today is preventing us from moving forward. it is my hope that the republican leader, the chairman of the finance committee, the senator from oklahoma and i could sit down and craft some
responsible compromise that allows this to move forward, because if my understanding is correct, it is the senator from oklahoma's concerns that are preventing us from moving forward at this point and it is the administration's concerns that are preventing breaking apart the burma sanctions and agoa sanctions and there is a third provision relating to cafta if i'm not mistaken. if we could but work together in a way that finds a responsible path forward, it is still i think possible. there is bipartisan support in the house for the passage of this package. in fact, i believe they were prepared to pass it by unanimous consent earlier this week and only hesitated to proceed because they heard there was a hold here in the senate. i'd like to work together in a way that can demonstrate to the people of burma, to the people of africa, to the people around the world that this greatest deliberative body on earth can still work out issues of this scale in a timely fashion, and so i offer my willingness to work together to find a path forward either tonight or in the week ahead. thank you.
i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: i don't mean to belabor the issue. i see the republican leader has left the floor. just a couple of points. one, i don't want the impression to be left here that this is a partisan matter. i don't want the impression to be left here that one party favors burma sanctions and the other doesn't. same with respect to agoa provisions. i think the fact is these are both totally bipartisan, both political parties favor these measures. it's just a matter of working out the way to pass them, and the senator from delaware made a very good point. he says let's see if we can work things out the next couple of three days. the senator from oklahoma makes a very valid point, too. that is, sometimes we pay for measures around here with measures that take several years
to actually pay for. it's a common practice around here. to say we have done it once does not necessarily mean it's right. but i say to my good friend from oklahoma, who has voted for this kind of measure 11 times by my count and once even on the burma bill, that when we work the next several weeks, next several months on resolving the fiscal cliff and tax reform, it's a good opportunity to find ways to reduce our budget deficits, both spending and revenue, and an opportunity to address them in a way that does not do violence to them, that respects the concept that the senator from oklahoma is mentioning. he has mentioned a concept which applies not just with respect to customers' user fees but for a lot of tax provisions around here. i think it's something we should talk about and figure out how we want to handle it, but in the meantime, i just suggest that
let's keep talking in the few days left here before we leave for the august recess. i just thank my colleagues for working together to try to find a solution here. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, tomorrow the attention of the world will turn to london as we witness the opening of the 2012 summer olympics. over 10,000 athletes representing 204 nations from around the world will be competing in hundreds of sporting events at the games of the 30th olympiad. here in the united states, we'll be cheering on the 529 u.s. athletes as they look to bring home the gold for the united states of america. the olympics no doubt will have countless stories of triumph and disappointment, competition and camaraderie. i rise today to share the remarkable story of one particular athlete who will be competing this year.
his story is one of inspiring triumph of character and spirit, but until just days ago, this olympian had no flag to compete under. this story is about a talented young runner named gore marial whose mere survival in southern sudan defied the odds. having escaped the bloodshed and violence in war-torn sudan, gore found his way to my home state of new hampshire as a teenaged refugee. mr. president, who could have imagined that in just over a decade, gore would be applying for u.s. citizenship and traveling to london to compete in the olympic marathon? gore was born in a town in what is now part of the fledgling country of south sudan. many of his family and friends, including his brother, were killed at the hands of sudanese security forces. many more died of starvation or disease brought on by the
violence and unspeakable crimes committed by these sudanese forces. before escaping sudan, gore was a victim of violence on numerous occasions. as a child, he was kidnapped from his hometown and enslaved as a laborer before eventually finding a way to escape and return to his family. gore was severely beaten by the sudanese police, had to spend days in a hospital to recover. finally, he was able to flee to neighboring egypt and eventually to the peace and safety of new hampshire as a refugee seeking asylum. gore arrived in my home state of new hampshire in 2001, almost exactly 11 years ago. he remembers that day well and still considers new hampshire his home. he lived in concord, the state capital, moving in with the families of his friends, teammates and his cross country coach for two years in order to
graduate from high school. the contrasts between gore's former life and his new life is stark. in sudan, he was running in fear for his life. in new hampshire, he was running for the joy of athletic competition and to be part of a team. amazingly, in only his second official marathon, gore ran fast enough to qualify for the 2012 london olympics. given his unique situation, however, it looked like the bureaucracy would triumph over his bravery, that gore might not be able to compete, because according to the rules of the international olympic committee, permanent residents of a country are not permitted to compete on that country's team. as a result, gore can't compete under the american flag because he's not yet a full citizen. in addition, gore can't run for the newly recognized country of
south sudan because it's such a new country, it doesn't yet have an official olympic committee. the international olympic committee suggested that gore compete as a member of the sudanese team and the sudanese government extended him an invitation, but gore rightfully refused, explaining that running for sudan -- and i quote here -- would be a disappointment and an embarrassment to me and the people of south sudan who died for freedom, including my brother, end quote. gore was not comfortable running on behalf of the country that tortured and murdered so many of his family members. that solution would have been cruel and unacceptable. fortunately, after some pressure by refugees international and other friends of gore who wrote to the international olympic committee on his behalf, we received the great news this week that the i.o.c. executive
board has decided to make an exception for guor. he will run in the marathon as an independent olympic athlete under the great olympic flag. i want to thank the international olympic committee for this very appropriate ruling. in addition, i want to thank the u.s. olympic committee, the u.s. department of state and the other friends of guor who worked so hard to make his participation possible. as he runs under that five-ringed flag, long a symbol of hope for peace in our world, guor will run with the support of his family, his new hampshire supporters, americans everywhere and his new country, south sudan. i have a feeling that such support might help him run even faster. we're so proud of guor in new hampshire. i'm proud that in the united states, someone who has lived through such tragedy and
adversity can start a new life and rise to such incredible heights. scott hamilton, an american olympic gold medalist, once said most other competitions are individual competitions, but the olympic games is something that belongs to everybody. no matter the outcome in london, the support of guor marial and the adversity he has overcome belongs to everyone. win or lose, he will stand as a lasting inspiration for people around the globe and as a tribute to the greatness that is the united states of america. i look forward to welcoming guor home from the olympics as a winner, regardless of the outcome of the marathon. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. bennet: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. i am here tonight on a different
topic than the senator from new hampshire but want to congratulate you on your fine work here. i know you don't need me to say that or you wouldn't want me to say that, but the people of new hampshire are so lucky to be represented by you, and this is exactly why, a reminder that our olympic athletes are about to start. i hope winning gold medals, i suspect they will win the most in this summer olympics. we're looking forward to that. you mentioned marathons, and it brought to mind what i wanted to talk about tonight, which is the farm bill. how's that or an eloquent segue? from one marathon to another. i want to talk about it in the context of the severe drought that's facing colorado and all of rural america, and i want to acknowledge the administration's ongoing efforts to provide coloradans with disaster relief during this difficult summer of fires and drought. mr. president, we need to pass a
five-year farm bill as quickly as possible to address the challenges that we're seeing in farm country, and we've done the work to get an agreement on the senate bill. in fact, we've passed the five-year farm bill in this senate. it was a strong bipartisan bill. i want to thank the chairwoman, debbie stabenow from michigan, the ranking member of the committee for their incredible leadership, working together with both sides of the aisle, never in a partisan way to produce, among other things, the only bipartisan deficit reduction that any committee, house or senate, has produced in this united states congress. $24 billion of deficit reduction that's been agreed to by republicans and democrats. it ends direct payments to producers, which is one of the most substantial reforms that we've seen in agriculture policy in a long time, and it strengthens the conservation title of the farm bill, which is very important to my state and
to the west. mr. president, colorado has a $40 billion agriculture sector that extends to all coirns of our state -- corners of our state. farming and ranching are two things we do extremely well. the senator from iowa is here and i know he knows his farmers do it extremely well in iowa as well. the producers in colorado and nationwide are experiencing the worst drought in 50 years. while colorado is certainly no stranger to water challenges, this year's growing season has been particularly tough, to put it mildly. according to the u.s. drought monitor, nearly our entire state is designated as an extreme drought area. we're experiencing damage to crops and pastureland as well as wide spreed water shortages. while this designation tells us a lot we really only need to ask
the farmers and ranchers how the dry conditions are threatening their operations. i met recently with a group of corn growers from eastern colorado. take a look, mr. president, at what these farmers are up against. this is steve scott's corn field, 18 miles southeast of burlington, colorado. a town of 4,200 people near the kansas border. this crop and many others in the entire region have withered under long stretches of high temperatures with little or no precipitation to help. the department of agriculture reports that 50% of -- 50%, 50% -- of colorado's corn production is either poor or very poor condition. the drought has taken a significant toll on our cattle producers. colorado is one of america's top beef producers. right now, 75% of pastureland
in colorado, approximately 900,000 acres, i'm not sure how that measures up to the presiding officer's state, but it's probably getting pretty close to that size -- is rated as either poor or very poor in condition. dry pasture and feed shortages have led ranchers to lick liquie their herds early well before they've realized their full size and value. the greeley, colorado producer's auction barn is seeing double the sales activity right now compared to the same time last year. because reangets are selling their cattle below full weight and maturity, they're losing anywhere from $200 to $400 a head. next week, carl hanson of livermore, colorado is selling 160 of his steers and 90 heifers. on average, each will be sold 150 pounds -- 150 pounds --
underweight due to drought conditions and is beef is selling at $1.50 a point-pound, -- a-pound, that's $56,000 lost revenue for carl and his family. the consequences of this drought extend will beyond farm country, mr. president. the damage to our farms and ranches affect other sectors of the economy from transportation to energy to banking to retail. mr. president, i know, we all know there's nothing congress can do to stop the drought or protect the next one from coming but what we can do is give our farmers and ranchers the tools they need to manage this drought and plan for the future by passing a five-year farm bill. you hear a lot about uncertainty in these two chambers. i can't imagine a set of circumstances creating more uncertainty in a more difficult situation than this, and now we hear that the house leadership is planning a one-year punt on
this whole conversation. one more expression that washington, d.c. has become the land of flickering lights, providing very little opportunity for people to be able to plan and have predictability. i ask what's wrong with the senate-passed bipartisan farm bill that had the support of 64 senators? 64 senators, democrats and republicans, some people voted against it because they didn't think it was adequate to their region, but this was not a partisan vote. neither majority vote nor the minority vote was a partisan vote. this was the senate operating as the senate is meant to do. a five-year bill provides our agriculture community with much-needed certainty and predictability but now it's being held up in the house by politics. and let's be clear. no one -- i'm saying it again -- no one is pretending that the farm bill can correct bad weather and our producers certainly aren't waiting on the
farm bill to keep doing what they do best. colorado will continue innovating and increasing productivity but the last thing on earth they need right now, the last thing they need is to have washington's unfinished business hanging around their necks. a five-year farm bill will provide producers with a set of tools for managing through this drought and planning for the future. the one-year bill being discussed over in the house by the leadership doesn't recognize the -- or is unwilling to recognize the agricultural community's need to do long-term planning. among many other important provisions, the senate farm bill contains be risk management programs like crop insurance which is what i heard was needed by our farmers. improvements farmers requested to help manage severe drought exactly like the one we're going through right now. this is the point of that provision. a one-year bill doesn't have any of those improvements.
corn farmers on colorado's eastern plains could lose 40% or more of their revenue this season. we need these reforms and the predictability of the senate bill. our bill also contains permanent disaster programs that provide responsible assistance to producers in need. some of these programs such as the livestock disaster programs, expired in september, 2011. almost a year ago. if congress takes the easy way out and does a one-year extension, our livestock producers will get no relief, none. this means no disaster assistance for ranchers whose pasture is too dry to feet their cattle. who's going to explain to the people selling at the greeley auction barn why this isn't a priority for our congress? in the middle of the worst drought in decades. the house ag committee passed a five-year farm bill with a strong bipartisan 35-11 vote,
again, this is not a partisan dysfunctionallity that we've talked about so many months on this floor. we have two bipartisan bills. one is passed out of committee on the house side with broad bipartisan support. one passed right here on the senate floor with broad bipartisan support. and so it's not surprising that i'm not the only person that's calling for long-term extension. a five-year extension. 79 house members including 41 republicans wrote to the speaker last week asking him to bring the long-term farm bill to the floor. and i'd like to enter that letter into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. they wrote the message from our constituents in rural america is clear. we need a farm bill now. we ask that you bring a farm bill up during the august district work period. they went on to say -- quote -- "we ask that you make this
legislation a priority of the house as it is critically important to rural and urban americans alike." representative rick berg from north dakota said now is the time for the house to act. the time for a farm bill is now. joanne emerson a republican congresswoman from missouri told reporters -- quote -- "there are problems with my farmers who need to make planting decisions." we're seeing that exact same uncertainty plaguing our farmers and ranchers in colorado yet here we are again. we've seen this before in washington. we're pretty good at starting conversations but we're not very good at finishing them. kicking the can down the road once again. but this is the farm bill. this is the farm bill. a bipartisan effort that rarely, if ever, has been used as a political football around this place. three days ago, david rogers
wrote an article which i think accurately describes our dilemma. it was in "politico" and i'd ask this article be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: to quote mr. rogers -- quote -- "never before in modern times has the farm bill reported from the house agriculture committee been so blocked." never before in modern times. i suspect it's true in ancient times as well but it's certainly been true in modern times. rogers tells us that he -- quote -- "looked back at 50 years of farm bills -- 50 years, a half century -- and found nothing like this." he continues, "farmers live by nature's calendar, not continuing resolutions." i could never have said it so eloquently myself. quote, "and by failing to act congress could seem even more
detached from the lives of everyday people." i would have not it was possible this place could seem more detached from the lives of everyday people than it already appears to be, but we found a way of doing that. and that's by failing to pass this bipartisan farm bill through the united states congress. in a timely way that's essential for people that are suffering through this kind of drought. i think mr. rogers' observation is exactly right, and, you know, i've been on this floor many times before saying that the people at home in colorado, republicans, democrats, and independents, don't identify with the cartoon of a conversation that we're having in washington, d.c. right now. and i can't think of a clearer example than the failure to act on this bipartisan piece of legislation, legislation that would immediately help people all across our country, all
across america, who are struggling today. mr. president, think for just a moment about our farmers in colorado and rural communities just like our communities all across this wonderful country. our farmers and ranchers are experiencing the worst drought in over half a century. who's going to look in the eyes of our farmers in middle america and tell them that our dysfunctional politics will prevent this bill from moving forward? who's going to tell steve scott and carl hansen that this bill just isn't going to be a priority in the congress, that we're just going to take our recess and go home for a month not having passed this bipartisan piece of legislation, the only manifestation, the only example of bipartisan deficit reduction in either the house or the senate in this entire congress. mr. president, i implore the house to figure out how to come to its senses and pass a
five-year bill along the lines of the bill that was passed out of their committee and then together we can have a conference and decide how we're going to move this bill forward on behalf of farmers and ranchers all across my state and all across the united states of america. thank you, mr. president. with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i didn't come to the floor to feek speak about the farm bill because i did that yesterday but i want to assure the senator from colorado i listened to everything he said and i agree with him and that was my plea maybe in a little broader context yesterday, asking that -- that the house of representatives take up the bill, and i also said about the same time being that the house brags legitimately so about being fiscally conservative so i agree with what the senator from colorado said about this may be the only opportunity, and
presumably will be the only opportunity to pass a farm bill or any bill that saves money from previous programs of previous years so i compliment the senator from colorado. mr. president, i come to the floor to discuss what i consider a disturbing trend that is occurring in this country. a vicious attack is underway on the right to freedom of speech that is protected by the first amendment. it needs to be highlighted and hopefully will stop. free speech is one of the most important rights that americans enjoy. speech on public issues is the way that democracy discusses and debates the important questions of the day. many great political movements in this country's history depended upon this right, this first amendment right, freedom of speech. even when martin luther king was
jailed and his supporters subjected to violence, free speech enabled him to change the views and practices of an entire nation. but today, too many government officials seek to shut up people who disagree with them, rather than debate those people and debate those issues. there have been a series of recent incidents that i want to refer to. consider recently in the senate committee on the judiciary, just in the past month. the committee has held two hearings that prove my point. a hearing was held held on a bill that would criminalize supposedly deceptive statements in advance of elections. it would allow government to criminalize political speech based on its content. it would risk government selectively choosing to prosecute its political opponents. it would allow political candidates to make criminal accusations against their
opponents. so it would chill candidates from speaking. a few days after our hearing, the supreme court's ruling in the alvarez case confirmed all the free speech problems with that bill. but even after that decision, the justice department, to my disappointment, issued a letter in support of the bill. that letter made no mention of any first amendment considerations. i have heard no indication that the committee will not mark up this bill, which represents a grave threat to freedom of speech. this week the judiciary committee subcommittee on the constitution held a hearing on legislative responses to the citizens united case. in that decision, the supreme court ruled that the first amendment free speech guarantee protects the rights of corporations and unions to make independent expenditures in support of candidates or on any
particular policy issue that they want to speak out on. the ruling has no effect on campaign contributions. there are proposals in this body to amend the bill of rights, the first amendment for the very first time to allow the government to limit how much candidates could spend on speech, and, therefore, the amount of speech that the government will permit. there are proposed constitutional amendments to prevent corporations and labor unions from spending in elections. to me, this is very serious business that we ought to be raising a red flag about. it is worth remembering what rule the obama administration asked the supreme court to adopt in citizens united. the justice department argued that the government should be able to ban books that contained even one sentence that expressly
advocated the election or defeat of a candidate if those books were published or distributed by a corporation or a union. this administration argued in favor of banning books in light of the practice of totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, this administration's position on free speech is very astonishing. the supreme court quite rightly rejected the argument of the administration on that particular point. and it reminded the news media, which is organized in corporate form for the most part, that the exemption from campaign finance laws is by statute and which is one that congress could rue move at any time -- could remove at any time, threatening freedom of press. if that were to happen and the constitution were to read to allow restrictions on corporate
independent expenditures, the guarantee of freedom of the press would be as threatened as the freedom of free speech. then there is another situation, and this deals with the restaurant chain of chick-fil-a. the owner of that chain is a christian who has spoken in favor of the value of traditional marriage. the chain has not discriminated against anyone so far as has been reported. the restaurant seeks to expand in boston and chicago, where presumably it would create new jobs. and it must -- in order to get there, it has to meet the permit requirements. however, mayor manino of boston wrote a letter to the company president.
he said because of the owner's -- quote unquote -- prejudice statements, that there would be no place in boston for the discrimination the company represented. the mayor notified the property owners where the restaurant wished to open of his view. in chicago an alderman seeks to detphaoeubg -- deny chick-fil-a from opening in his ward for the same reason. it is reported that president obama's former chief of staff, now chicago mayor rahm emanuel is sympathetic to the alderman's point of view. so once again this is a gross violation of free amendment -- first amendment free speech. government cannot deny a benefit to someone because it disagrees with the applicant's views. this is the fundamental
principle of our constitutional democracy. voicing support for traditional marriage is not discrimination. that speech is not hate speech. even if it were, the first amendment protects speech that is unpopular with the government. there is no constitutional speech code that allows banning a hate speech anymore than government can ban speech in books. finally, the alvarez decision a few weeks ago affects another first amendment issue pending before this body right now. the alvarez case, in that case the supreme court struck down the stolen valor act which criminalizes lies concerning winning military medals. it did so on free speech ground. i know that many of my colleagues desire to pass a new
law that will accomplish that goal. and if that law is constitutional, i'll probably join them in that effort. two bills on this subject are now pending in the senate. senator brown of massachusetts introduced the first bill and then senator webb did so after the alvarez decision. there have been efforts to pass both bills by voice vote. when the republicans were asked to move the webb bill, we were told that all democrats supported the bill. this is a problem. the webb bill is clearly unconstitutional based upon the alvarez decision. it criminalizes some lies about medals that the supreme court says congress cannot criminalize. it would prohibit lies in campaign and in unemployment even when those lies would not produce the tangible material benefit that is necessary to punish them.
yet, no democrat objected to passing the bill without debate. of course, republicans could not agree to such a request. since he did not have the benefit of the supreme court decision when he wrote -- when he wrote the bill that senator brown put in, right now because of the decision, and he didn't know about it, senator brown's bill is also unconstitutional. the difference between his bill and senator webb's bill, however, is that senator brown now has a substitute amendment that seems to address the problem in a fully constitutional way. but although democrats want to pass without debate a clearly unconstitutional bill, somehow they object to a clearly constitutional brown bill. these games should stop. i'm sure that all the members of this body should be willing to support a single constitutional
bill that would reenact the prohibition of lying about whether or not you're entitled to certain military medals. in short, this country is facing a disturbing increase in government actions that violate the freedom of speech. that is a vital right of our democracy. anyone can stand up for speech with which they agree. the test for government officials and the test for free speech is whether they will allow speech with which they might disagree. they may criticize speech, debate the speech and seek to change minds. but shutting people up, denying them benefits, passing bills that would put people in jail for exercising free speech rights, these are never allowable under our
constitution. it's time for elected officials to pay greater heed to the oath to support the constitution. recently former f.b.i. director william webster was asked to investigate how the f.b.i. performed about the attack at fort hood by may skwror -- major hassan. his attack killed soldiers, a defense department employee and wounded 42 others. following the attack, the f.b.i. conducted an internal review and determined that it had information on major hassan prior to that attack. as a result, the f.b.i. director asked judge webster to conduct an independent review and investigation of the f.b.i.'s
handling of the matter. in short, judge webster's commission found that the f.b.i. made mistakes that resulted from a number of problems, some operational, some technological. some of these mistakes are extremely concerning given that they are basic management failures. for example, the unclassified report states -- quote -- "many agents and most task force officers did not receive training on f.b.i. computer systems and other f.b.i. data bases until after the f.b.i.'s internal investigation of the fort hood shootings." this is clearly unacceptable. other problems highlighted include failing to issue intelligence information reports on major hassan to the defense department, confusion about which f.b.i. office was investigating the lead, failure
to interview major hassan along with information technological limitations. all in all, the webster report paints a disturbing picture of the f.b.i. it shows lack of training, failure to follow leads, and continued computer problems. these are the types of problems that, quite frankly, we thought were corrected following the terrorist attacks 9/11. ultimately judge webster issued 18 recommendations for the f.b.i. to implement to prevent future problems like these. the f.b.i. agreed that these -- with these recommendations and has stated that they'll take action to implement those recommendations. that's good news, of course. the f.b.i. must implement these recommendations and do it immediately. however, we have a duty to make sure that the f.b.i. implements these recommendations and hold
people accountable -- and in fact hold the f.b.i. accountable if they don't. the f.b.i.'s failure in this case is inexcusable and shake public confidence in the f.b.i.'s ability to combat homegrown terrorism. basic management problems and investigative failures can't happen, particularly if national security is at stake. if failures of this magnitude occur on high-profile national security cases, it makes you wonder what the f.b.i. is doing on other investigations. those responsible for these failures should be held accountable. i intend to follow up with director mueller to determine what action was taken to make -- taken against those people that didn't do the job in the right and correct way. one more report that can't go
ignored is a report just released this morning by the justice department office of inspector general. this report examined improper hiring practices within the justice department justice management division. shockingly, the inspector general found that the justice department employees openly and flagrantly violated federal law. let me repeat that these employees violated federal law, and the department of justice regulations prohibiting employment of relatives, granting illegal preferences in employment, conflict of interest and misuse of position. further, employees who were interviewed by the office of inspector general were also found to have made false statements to investigators. this is an example of the
justice department run wild. it is troubling to me how employees within the departments concluded and schemed to hire one another's relatives in order to avoid rules against nepotism. it's inexcusable, and i can assure you that we'll be looking into this matter. this wasn't a onetime event, by the way. in fact, the office of inspector general pointed out that similar problems existed in 2008. despite what the department called, quote unquote, aggressive action to stop this type of behavior back in 2008, it appears that nothing has changed. at the very least, the attorney general needs to hold these employees accountable with more than just disciplinary action. laws were broken and false statements were made. the department can't simply sweep this under the rug. employees need to